ALBANY — He “loved” leading his first official summer workout with his full team, but head coach Dwayne Killings revered most the moments his UAlbany men’s basketball players took over.
Those moments, Killings said, were the “greatest thing” from Tuesday’s workout at SEFCU Arena. In two different instances, a UAlbany player — freshman Ny’Mire Little at one point, graduate student De’Vondre Perry during another — halted a drill to speak up.
“That’s awesome,” said Killings, who was hired in March after most-recently serving as an associate head coach at Marquette, “and I think it shows the character of the players that we have in our program and that we come from programs that understand what it takes to win.”
Perry — a 6-foot-7, 220-pound forward who transferred from Temple — said he liked the “intense” nature of the Great Danes’ workout, and wants such an atmosphere to be commonplace throughout UAlbany’s six weeks of summer workouts. In a moment when focus waned, though, Perry didn’t keep quiet.
“I just told my teammates that time is money. We don’t want to waste anybody’s time,” said Perry, who is one of nine new UAlbany players. “So pay attention to details, lock in and let’s get it the first time so the coaches don’t have to repeat each other.”
Killings and his coaching staff were able to conduct some workouts in the spring with UAlbany’s returning players. The first-year head coach, who replaced Will Brown at the helm of the Great Danes, said he was excited about what carried over from the spring workouts to Tuesday’s first-of-the-summer session.
“The energy was there,” Killings said. “We were playing a little bit fast, but their hearts were in the right place.”
Mistakes are expected during summer practices, though, even when things are not “all new” like they are for the Great Danes, whose court at SEFCU Arena was even recently redone and now features a large version of the school’s revamped logo that debuted last July.
“It’s a whole new world for them. It’s a whole new world for me,” Killings said of the Great Danes’ situation this summer. “But what I said to them is really simple: I’m going to let you play through your mistakes, let me coach through my mistakes — and we’ll get this thing right.”
One of UAlbany’s first team activities this summer was to visit a SEFCU bank for a presentation on “financial literacy.”
Killings said that trip was part of the “Leadership Academy” he’s starting for his players. During the Great Danes’ six weeks of summer workouts, Killings said his players will participate in approximately 15 events meant to help them grow their “life skills.” Killings said some of the events will feature bringing a speaker to meet with the team, while other trips similar to the bank visit are planned
“Our job, in my opinion, is to grow our guys as men,” Killings said. “I think that if we can grow them as men, it’s going to help them on the court.”
Killings referred to the NCAA’s shift late last month to allow athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness as a “great opportunity” for his players.
Graduate student Jarvis Doles, one of UAlbany’s six returning players, said he wants to “take advantage of” the chance to build and promote his personal brand. So far, though, Doles said he hasn’t “had anybody contact” him yet in regards to any opportunities.
“Definitely would love to do it,” Doles said.
Perry echoed Doles’ enthusiasm.
“I love it,” Perry said. “It’s well overdue.”