ALBANY — It’s been a slow start to the season for the UAlbany women’s basketball program.
Heading into Wednesday’s 1 p.m. game at Cornell, the Great Danes have split the only two games they’ve played. After making its season debut Nov. 10 with a resounding win against Hofstra, UAlbany didn’t play again until six days later when it lost to Merrimack — and, now, the Great Danes’ game in Ithaca arrives eight days later.
“The silver lining,” UAlbany head coach Colleen Mullen said Monday, “in that is that we have a lot more time to prepare and a lot more time to focus on ourselves.”
That was especially necessary after the Great Danes’ defeat at Merrimack, a game that Mullen called a “letdown” for her team after its opening-night, 29-point win. UAlbany trailed by 10-plus points for most of the second half in that 65-52 loss to Merrimack, and that was despite a 17-0 UAlbany run in the fourth quarter.
“I think it definitely humbled us, in a way, and I think we learned a lot from the loss,” UAlbany guard Morgan Haney said of the defeat at Merrimack, which had entered that game after losing its first two games by a combined 94 points.
Mullen and her coaching staff made sure the Great Danes learned lessons from their loss. With the long gap between games, UAlbany spent a couple days reviewing its game against Merrimack, both with on-court work and time in the film room before starting to prepare a few days ago for Cornell, which is 2-3 on the season. Mullen said a major focus in the last several days has been on the extra effort needed to win road games — “You have to be 10 points better” — and that the team’s attention to detail needs to be better at Cornell than it was at Merrimack.
“That’s on me,” Mullen said.
The Great Danes, though, also need to be better on the court, and offensive execution has been one of the team’s main talking points in recent days. Against Merrimack, UAlbany made 23 of 71 shots and 4 of 20 from 3-point territory.
Another area of concern through the team’s opening two games has been the team’s inability to keep center Lucia Decortes on the court. Decortes — who averaged 6.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 24.8 minutes per game last season — has only played 28 minutes so far this season, including just nine against Merrimack, because of foul trouble. Decortes said Monday she’s been working on defending without fouling, and Mullen said the Great Danes need their 6-foot-3 senior center on the court.
“We are different when she is not on the floor,” Mullen said of Decortes, who typically guards the other team’s top post player.
Decortes said the Great Danes “know that we’re better than” how they played against Merrimack. Confidence remains from how UAlbany started its season against Hofstra, and Mullen said the Great Danes have been extra focused in practice since their loss.
“We know that we’re capable of what we need to do,” Mullen said.