UAlbany women’s basketball expects seniors back next season

Lucia Decortes, left, and Ellen Hahne. (Gazette file photos)

Lucia Decortes, left, and Ellen Hahne. (Gazette file photos)

ALBANY — With their winning record and the playoffs approaching, it’s an exciting time for the Great Danes.

The future looks pretty bright, too, for the UAlbany women’s basketball program that head coach Colleen Mullen has rebuilt into one of the America East Conference’s best.

Mullen said Thursday, two days before the Great Danes play at New Hampshire in their final regular-season road game, that her expectation is that the club’s only two seniors — Lucia Decortes and Ellen Hahne — will take advantage of their extra year of playing eligibility to return next season with UAlbany. The program is confident enough in the potential return of both Decortes and Hahne for next season that UAlbany isn’t planning to conduct a senior-night ceremony before either of next week’s final home games of the regular season, critical games as the Great Danes continue to chase after the America East’s top postseason seed.

“They’re committed to being here,” Mullen said. “So that’s how we went with it.”

Mullen said that “of course, things can change,” but her expectation is that Decortes and Hahne — key all-around players for the Great Danes, and likely the team’s best defenders — will be back in 2022-23 at UAlbany. 

“I’ve invested in them [and] they’ve invested in the program,” Mullen said.

Both players have an additional season of playing eligibility due to the NCAA’s decision to award an extra season to all players who competed in the 2020-21 season amid constant coronavirus-related pauses and restrictions. Decortes, a 6-foot-3 senior from Italy, wasn’t available to speak with reporters during a post-practice media session Thursday, but Hahne — a 5-foot-11 senior from Sweden — said she expects to return next season. 

“I mean, this is sort of my first normal year here at UAlbany,” said Hahne, who transferred from Wake Forest following the 2019-20 season. “So I would love to come back for another year; want to play with these girls some more and be in this program. I feel like we have a lot ahead of us, a lot of goals we want to reach, so I would love to stay for another year.”

After Wednesday’s win against Binghamton, UAlbany is two wins away from its first 20-win season since the 2017-18 campaign, which was the last of seven consecutive seasons of that level of success. The Great Danes have three games remaining in their regular season and, at 11-4 in league play, are a half-game behind Maine for the league’s top postseason seed. 

Mullen said the team’s focus is on making sure it leaves New Hampshire with a win this Saturday, but the fourth-year head coach said she likes knowing the core of her team for next season appears to be set.

“That’s obviously in the future, but it excites me,” Mullen said. “It excites me because we’ve built a foundation the right way. Slowly, but surely . . . not always reaping the rewards or winning those close games — and, now, we’ve gotten to the point where we’re competing for the top spot. That’s really exciting, for all the hard work our staff’s put in, and our players’ belief in each other and their belief in the program.”

Categories: College Sports, Sports, UAlbany

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