ALBANY — It was supposed to be Cameron Healy’s team.
Instead, the redshirt junior needs to find a role on the UAlbany men’s basketball team.
And the guard from Australia knows that change has happened.
“The team’s showed a lot of potential so far,” Healy said, “and I’m just hoping that I can add to that.”
Healy spoke with area reporters during a Wednesday teleconference, and started the conversation with a good-natured noting that “it’s been a little while” since he had done that. A combination of a tough-to-beat oblique injury that robbed him of some games, little production when he did play and decisions from head coach Will Brown not to make the guard available for interviews on some occasions resulted in Healy’s public comments Wednesday being his first in months.
A preseason America East all-conference selection, Healy was projected to serve as UAlbany’s top offensive threat. Before the team’s first game, though, Healy said he felt a “sharp pain” and spasms beneath his rib cage. He struggled through two games, then sat a bunch before returning to action — but the 6-foot-3 guard hasn’t been right in any of the games since returning from his oblique injury. On the season, Healy is averaging 3.5 points per game on 23.3% shooting, well below the career marks of 15.1 points and 40.5% shooting he brought into the 2020-21 season. Even those career numbers, though, are lower than they should be, since Healy struggled down the stretch run last season as he dealt with back/hip injuries that limited his mobility and production.
Meanwhile, before its most-recent pause that concluded last week, UAlbany had started to jell. After a 1-5 start, the Great Danes had won three of four games and had scored a robust 83 points in that trio of victories.
Healy only scored two points and played 19 minutes in those three wins. He focused on being a good teammate during those games, though, and received credit from head coach Will Brown for agreeing to go into the last of those wins, a blowout victory, with just minutes left for his only action of the day.
UAlbany’s recent pause, Healy said, gave him a chance to “think and kind of process what’s going on,” and he said he’s in better shape, mentally and physically, as the Great Danes prepare for this weekend’s games against UMass Lowell and the closing run of contests after that.
“Honestly, I feel energized and I feel ready to prove something — but, most importantly, prove that we can win this conference because I really believe that we can,” Healy said.
The redshirt junior said he’s “excited” to show off the shooting touch that made him into the conference’s most-feared threat from downtown.
“But not at the expense of the team,” Healy said. “Never. I’m just looking to contribute.”
Brown said he remains confident in Healy’s ability to contribute to wins. The veteran coach, though, needs to find a “happy medium” in terms of allowing Healy chances to prove he’s back to his old self without hurting the program’s chances to win games.
UAlbany announced Tuesday that it will be without two players — unidentified, for now — for its games against UMass Lowell because of COVID-19 protocols. That means some Great Danes, “Cameron included,” will get some extra minutes in those games.
“And, hopefully, he takes advantage of it,” Brown said. “Nobody’s rooting for him to get back to where he was more than I am.”
UAlbany junior Antonio Rizzuto knows all about the “where he was” when it comes to Healy. At 12.9 points per game, Rizzuto is UAlbany’s second-leading scorer on the season behind junior CJ Kelly, and Rizzuto reminded reporters Wednesday that Healy is the player he’s “tried to guard . . . ever since I was a freshman because I know he’s the guy that’s going to get me better.”
And Rizzuto said he still sees Healy as that guy.
“Cameron’s a phenomenal player and he’s going to be fine,” Rizzuto said. “He’s going to come back, and he’s going to be phenomenal down the stretch.”
Healy said he “100%” needs to adjust his game, though, to fit into the free-flowing offense UAlbany is using this season, one that ranks second in conference play this season in adjusted efficiency, according to kenpom.com. While last season’s Great Danes needed heroic efforts each game from Healy and then-senior Ahmad Clark to be competitive, Healy said he knows “it’s not the same” this year.
“I’m happy to be a part of it,” Healy said.