ALBANY — In the locker room and during practices, Antonio Rizzuto has always been a vocal leader willing to speak his mind.
“But, in the games, I think I definitely need to step up in that aspect a little more and I think that will help us,” Rizzuto said during a Wednesday teleconference with reporters.
And UAlbany is counting on Rizzuto to do just that. After a 1-5 start to the season, during which four defeats have been suffered by five points or fewer, the Great Danes named earlier this week the junior guard from York, Pennsylvania, as their captain for the rest of the 2020-21 campaign.
“I think Antonio is a great example for others in our locker room to follow because of how hard he plays every day, how hard he competes every day,” UAlbany head coach Will Brown said.
And the Great Danes have been frank this season in acknowledging they’ve had stretches of play where their focus lacked, their attention to detail could’ve been better and their energy waned.
Rizzuto is a player Brown has always credited for giving maximum effort at all times. The passion Rizzuto brings to the court “can be, and should be, contagious,” Brown said.
“You sense how important it is to Antonio,” Brown said.
While Rizzuto said he needs to be more vocal moving forward, junior CJ Kelly said his teammate has earned the respect of the rest of the Great Danes because of his approach.
“He competes,” Kelly said. “He’s vocal. He says the right things at the right times. He doesn’t talk just to talk.”
Rizzuto is UAlbany’s only captain this season after the team had three co-captains last season.
HEALY GETTING HEALTHY
After missing UAlbany’s last four games, Brown said redshirt junior Cameron Healy — a preseason America East all-conference selection — will play a “limited role” this weekend against NJIT if this week of practice plays out as expected.
After going through individual workouts in recent days, Brown said Healy would take part in contact work starting Wednesday. If he made it through those sessions without any setbacks, Healy will “play a few minutes each game” this weekend.
Healy (oblique) wasn’t at full-strength during the two games he played this season, and is averaging eight points per game on 25% shooting from the field.
Brown said that freshman Will Amica hasn’t returned to practice since he took an inadvertent “blow to the head” during a late-December practice.