Throughout the offseason, first-year UAlbany men’s basketball head coach Dwayne Killings regularly referred to guard Will Amica as one of the program’s building blocks.
And Killings didn’t mince words Monday regarding the now-confirmed, season-long loss of Amica from the Great Danes’ lineup, which — combined with the indefinite loss of wing player Gerald Drumgoole Jr., who recently had knee surgery — the coach called a “blow to our season and our team.”
During a Monday press conference at SEFCU Arena, Killings said that Amica will undergo surgery Wednesday morning for a torn hip labrum. The 6-foot-0 sophomore guard did not appear in any games this season as he dealt with injury issues to both of his hips.
It’s Amica’s right hip that requires surgery, and that’s after the player said he initially injured his left hip. Amica said he had a hip impingement early in the team’s preseason, then first felt pain in his right hip within a day or two of UAlbany’s season-opening Nov. 9 game against Towson.
“What I think happened was I was putting a lot of force onto my right hip to compensate for my left hip,” said Amica, whose teammates next play at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Yale.
Amica worked extensively with UAlbany assistant athletic trainer Rebecca Sanger to try to find a way for the guard to play this season. He missed all but one game last season, as he dealt with head and elbow injuries. In the one game he played, Amica — who was named 2019 NYSPHSAA Class AA tournament MVP as a junior after leading West Genesee High School to a state championship — recorded six points, a steal and an assist in nine minutes.
This season, Killings said Amica’s treatment for his hip injuries included a cortisone shot, but that didn’t provide lasting help for the player who practiced as recently as right before the team’s trip to play three games in Kentucky in the days leading up to Thanksgiving.
“My problem was when I’d get low, like in a defensive stance or when I was trying to get to the basket . . . that’s when the pain starts and it just locks up on me, and I can’t do anything after that,” Amica said.
A recent MRI confirmed that Amica should get surgery, and Killings said that the player has a “six-month recovery timetable.”
With a smile, Amica acknowledged two seasons of injuries “was not at all” how he envisioned starting his college basketball career. He said daily chats with family members, coaches and teammates help to keep his spirits up, and his focus has been on making sure he provides “positive energy” for his squad.
“I want to be a good teammate,” Amica said.
While Amica hadn’t played yet this season, there was hope that the guard could — at some point — add a significant boost for a UAlbany team that needs one. Through the weekend’s games, UAlbany was 1-6 on the season and its offense ranked No. 340 out of 358 in the country in adjusted efficiency, according to kenpom.com.
A tough matchup at Yale awaits the Great Danes in their next game. Yale was the preseason favorite in the Ivy League, and the club that UAlbany graduate James Jones coaches is off to a 5-5 start despite playing a tough non-conference schedule. Included in Yale’s start to the season are losses against Auburn and Seton Hall, two programs ranked in this week’s top-25 national poll.
“If you look at Yale, they know how to win basketball games,” Killings said. “They’ve done it. We’re still learning that.”