Offseason of change continues for UAlbany men’s basketball

UAlbany men’s basketball head coach Dwayne Killings during conditioning work at UAlbany SEFCU Arena in Albany on Monday, July 6, 2021.

UAlbany men’s basketball head coach Dwayne Killings during conditioning work at UAlbany SEFCU Arena in Albany on Monday, July 6, 2021.

ALBANY — Early in the team’s offseason, UAlbany men’s basketball head coach Dwayne Killings said he’d been “really lucky with the staff we put together,” and that it was a goal to keep the program’s assortment of coaches together.

“But there’s always going to be that threat of losing guys,” Killings said back in March.

Fast-forward several months, and that threat sure has materialized for UAlbany. That’s left the program needing to rebuild its coaching staff — and its roster, as is normal in college basketball these days — this offseason, an eventful one that began with a much-publicized, school-led investigation into Killings’ program that “substantiated” there was “inappropriate physical contact between Coach Killings and a student-athlete during a pre-game hype circle.” Killings retained his position, but will serve a five-game suspension next season.

Already this offseason, assistant coaches Matt Griffin and Dannton Jackson left for other college basketball jobs, as did director of recruiting and video KJ Baptiste. The possible still-to-come change for the Great Danes is the loss of Hamlet Tibbs — who is currently Killings’ only returning assistant coach — to serve as an assistant coach at Notre Dame of the Atlantic Coast Conference. ESPN’s Pete Thamel reported earlier this week of Notre Dame’s interest in Tibbs, and Killings confirmed Wednesday after a team workout at the soon-to-be-renovated SEFCU Arena that he’d had multiple conversations with Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey regarding Tibbs.

“I had a contact reach out to me and they were looking for some names, and I suggested [Tibbs] and it’s taken off,” said Killings, whose first group of Great Danes finished 13-18. “I think he’s got a really good shot at the job. So we’ll see where that goes, and I’m super proud of him.”

Tibbs was at Wednesday’s summer workout for the Great Danes, as was Bobby Jordan who was recently hired as one of UAlbany’s new assistant coaches. Former director of basketball operations Dan Madhavapallil was promoted to become an assistant coach, but the departure of Tibbs would necessitate Killings to find another new assistant coach — and the Great Danes would then bring an entirely new cast of assistant coaches into the 2022-23 campaign.

Griffin and Baptiste left UAlbany to become assistant coaches at Florida Gulf Coast, while Jackson departed to become the men’s basketball head coach and assistant athletic director of external affairs at Talladega College in Alabama. Killings said he viewed members of the Great Danes’ coaching staff moving on as signs UAlbany had “really talented people in our gym,” but also that the changes to his coaching staff “happened a little bit faster” than he anticipated.

“Now,” Killings said, “we’ve got to find the next wave to be here.”

Jordan has technically been hired twice this offseason. After spending three seasons at Wagner as an assistant coach for head coach Bashir Mason, Jordan headed to Saint Peter’s in June with Mason, who replaced Shaheen Holloway following Holloway becoming the Seton Hall coach after Saint Peter’s memorable Elite Eight run. Jordan has coached at both the high school and college levels, and played and coached at Drexel for James “Bruiser” Flint, who coached Killings at UMass.

UAlbany’s formal summer workouts with its players ends Friday. When the Great Danes get back together following a break, it’s still unclear where they’ll be playing and practicing. UAlbany announced last week that renovations to SEFCU Arena will start next month and conclude in November 2023.

Several venues have been rumored to serve as the home court for UAlbany’s basketball teams during the 2022-23 season, with Hudson Valley Community College a locale that’s been persistently mentioned. Killings, though, said that it remains “to be determined” where the Great Danes will play next season.

“I’m hoping that everything is consistent — or, at the very least, it’s the best place where we can put our product on the floor and get the community to support us,” Killings said.

Categories: -Sports-, College Sports, UAlbany

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