ALBANY — Will Brown hasn’t ruled anyone out yet from playing in this weekend’s America East Conference series against Vermont, but the UAlbany men’s basketball team is on track to be short-handed when it plays in Burlington.
At least four players appear more likely to sit than play this weekend.
Cameron Healy and Adam Lulka, both starters, each haven’t “stepped foot on the court” in the last week, Brown said Wednesday in a phone interview.
Jamel Horton, a key reserve, hasn’t practiced in nearly a week.
And, Will Amica — a freshman guard who didn’t play in UAlbany’s 0-3 start — was hurt in Tuesday’s practice and is “highly unlikely” to play at Vermont after taking an inadvertent elbow from a teammate to his head.
“But [Amica] would have played this weekend because, since the [Dec. 22] game against Niagara, he has practiced at a really high level,” said Brown, who added that a preseason elbow injury robbed Amica of multiple weeks of practice time prior to the Great Danes’ opening games against UMBC. “As much as we wanted to cut our rotation down to nine guys, I thought he was playing well enough that he was going to earn and deserve an opportunity.”
But UAlbany — which had at least 11 players appear in each of its first three games — might need to shorten its rotation out of necessity against Vermont, which is 2-2 on the season.
Healy — a preseason all-conference selection — started UAlbany’s first two games of the season, then missed the third after exiting early from the second. Brown said the redshirt junior is experiencing “spasms in his oblique area,” and that UAlbany needs to be cautious with the high-scoring guard because of concerns the ailment is “potentially related” to the back/hip injury that hampered Healy down the stretch of last season.
“Obviously, he’s not comfortable right now, and we need to be careful because we don’t want this to be an ongoing, lingering issue,” Brown said.
Meanwhile, Lulka started all three of UAlbany’s games, but exited early from the third game after taking a hit to the face. Lulka had surgery to correct a nose fracture prior to the preseason, and Brown said the blow to Lulka’s head caused his nose to bleed, and that the redshirt junior forward has been dealing with headaches and dizziness.
When asked, the coach declined to confirm if Lulka had suffered a concussion.
Brown, too, didn’t confirm if either Healy or Lulka will miss this weekend’s action.
“But I think you can piece it all together, that they would need to practice to be able to play,” said Brown, whose team resumed practicing last Sunday after taking a brief break around Christmas. “We will definitely err on the side of caution with both of them.”
Brown said Horton, a junior guard, is dealing with a back issue and hasn’t participated in any of the team’s workouts this week beyond stretching.
“Can he get himself to a point where he feels OK on Saturday?” Brown said. “Maybe, but, then again, if he feels OK, and wants to give it a go, how effective can he be?”
In UAlbany’s opening games, Horton averaged 8.7 points in 23 minutes per game. Brown said the transfer from Pratt Community College had “proven after three games that he’s our best perimeter defender,” and the coach planned to reward him for that.
“His minutes were going to go up, for sure,” Brown said.
While UAlbany will play this weekend as scheduled, the Great Danes’ games the following weekend have been postponed.
UAlbany’s Jan. 9-10 home games against Stony Brook were moved Wednesday to Feb. 12-13.
The Stony Brook program announced Wednesday it had paused in-person activities because of a positive COVID-19 test result.