The Outlet: UAlbany men’s basketball’s Little seeks big step forward

UAlbany men’s basketball player Ny'Mire Little
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UAlbany men’s basketball player Ny'Mire Little

Ny’Mire Little smiled and laughed as he thought back on his mindset from a year ago, as the guard from Chester, Pennsylvania, started up his first college basketball summer with the UAlbany men’s basketball program.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Little said, “I had no idea.”

This time, Little is in a different spot, and he hopes that leads to a different type of season for himself in Year 2 with the Great Danes. Little showed moments of promise during his freshman season, but played sparingly overall. In 22 appearances for a 13-18 club, Little averaged 2.5 points and had four more turnovers than assists on the season for head coach Dwayne Killings’ club.

“I feel a lot more prepared now,” Little said as UAlbany started its summer workouts last week. “For me, experience is the biggest teacher. As I went through it last year, I learned different things and started to see different things.”

A lot of that learning came from watching older teammates, the Great Danes who had already played a bunch of college seasons. As much as he learned from them on the court, Little said it was watching how the team’s veterans — the De’Vondre Perrys and Matt Cerrutis of the squad — handled themselves away from the playing floor that helped him see how important “eating right, sleeping right and being on a routine” are to achieving on-court success.

Improving his long-range shooting and touch around the rim are things Little is working on this offseason after making 24.4% of his shots from the field last season, but “time-management” is the No. 1 skill Little said he’s focused on bettering this summer. Getting eight hours of sleep and eating the right foods at the right times are top priorities for the 6-foot-4 guard.

“I’ve been diving deep into myself so I can be the best that I can,” Little said.

With the right steps this offseason, Little appears poised to take significant ones on the court as a sophomore. Last season’s lead guard — Jamel Horton — is gone, and Little has as solid a chance as anyone on UAlbany’s roster to take over the keys to the Great Danes’ offense. Killings, too, has consistently said that UAlbany’s offense — one of the weakest in the country in 2021-22 — will look a lot different moving forward, and utilizing multiple ball-handling guards is one of the tweaks that the second-year head coach plans to make. 

“Ny’Mire — with his versatility, his playmaking ability — is what we need,” Killings said recently.

To put himself in position to provide that, Little said he knows this summer is crucial. The rising sophomore said he feels equipped to take advantage of the weeks ahead because of everything he took from his freshman year.

“It was the biggest learning experience,” Little said.

PATIENCE REQUIRED

For different reasons, Will Amica and Jonathan Beagle need to show patience this summer.

Both know it, too.

In two seasons with the Great Danes, Amica has played in a total of one game due to injury issues that he’s still recovering from this offseason. Meanwhile, Beagle is UAlbany’s highly touted incoming freshman, a 6-foot-9 Hudson Falls native who Killings has predicted several times will follow teammate Justin Neely as an America East Rookie of the Year.

Beagle said his focus is a day-to-day one, and Killings said that’s by design.

“Just take your time. Just let it all happen. There’s no rush,” was the coach’s message to a teenager who could start on opening night for the Great Danes.

The same message was extended to Amica, who dealt with a variety of injuries as a freshman before missing all of his sophomore season due to hip injuries that required procedures.

“Physically, I feel good,” Amica said last week. “I’ve still got a few more weeks left in my recovery until I’m fully clear. But, physically, my body feels good. I can’t wait for the season.”

Amica said he “can’t even put it in words” how difficult it’s been not to be able to play much basketball since wrapping up his high school career at West Genesee. He’s been able to do skill work, but he’s itching for 5-on-5 competition. 

“I want to do everything, but I can’t yet,” Amica said. “I have to make sure that my body’s in the right position to be able to do that.”

Killings referenced that Amica’s status for the start of the 2022-23 season is undetermined. Amica could be ready to go for opening night, but no firm timeline exists yet for a player who has played nine minutes in his college career.

“We just want to get him along at the right pace,” Killings said.

Beagle described starting his college basketball career as “surreal.” Beagle said he’s set “no personal goals yet,” and said his attention is fixated on one thing.

“I just want to bring a championship back here,” Beagle said.

BACK WITH THE SAINTS

Ahniysha Jackson will return to the Siena women’s basketball program for the 2022-23 season.

Jackson, an Albany High School graduate, had entered into the NCAA transfer portal earlier this offseason. Siena announced Jackson’s decision to return to the Saints last week. 

A rising junior, Jackson averaged 5.3 points per game in 19 appearances last season.

Categories: College Sports, Siena College, Sports, UAlbany

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