ALBANY — Graduate student Lucia Decortes will be out for a little while, but other than her, the UAlbany womens’ basketball team is pretty healthy as it prepares for its season opener in a little under two weeks.
Decortes has a lower leg injury that’s different from the injury she suffered in the last couple of weeks of the 2021-22 season. The 6-foot-3 Decortes was named to last season’s America East All-Defensive Team, having led the league with 44 blocks. In 28 starts last season, she averaged 5.8 points and 4.9 rebounds per game.
After Monday’s practice, Decortes said she could start some activity next week.
“It’ll be toward the end of December [where I] maybe play a little bit,” Decortes said. “It’s depending on how I feel.”
UAlbany will have played 14 non-league games before having its first America East contest on Dec. 29 vs. Vermont at Hudson Valley Community College’s McDonough Sports Complex.
“She’s been working really hard on her rehab, and certainly defensively, she gives us a whole different look,” UAlbany coach Colleen Mullen said. “The silver lining is we did win the championship without her, so we had players step up. She’s certainly an enforcer in there and we miss her, but it’s giving other people an opportunity to get better.”
The Great Danes are getting more comfortable with the court and surroundings at HVCC. UAlbany recently played a scrimmage against Army there.
“It’s large and spacious,” Mullen said. “The players really enjoy playing there. It’s started to feel like home when you’ve had one scrimmage there and we’ll continue to have a couple practices there before we open with Merrimack [Nov. 11]. Certainly puts us at ease with having a new temporary home.”
“Really nice gym, and just knowing [where we’re playing] definitely helps,” graduate student Ellen Hahne added.
LIKED WHAT THEY SAW
Mullen said the mood is positive after the Army scrimmage.
“We did a really nice job of executing a defensive game plan, and our offense is coming along. It’s just really balanced and we have a lot of depth,” Mullen said.
“Freja [Werth] had a tremendous scrimmage,” Mullen added. “Taniya [Hanner] played some great defense. We just moved the ball really well and played unselfishly. I think our biggest focus right now is to take our offense to the next level in terms of details, and reading the defense.”
DEFENSE STILL A PRIORITY
UAlbany will never get away from having defense be the star of every show.
“Our philosophy is always to let our offense come from our defense, so increasing our experience with pressures, turning that into offense,” Mullen said. “And then the last piece is rebounding. We need to continue to be a better rebounding team. I think that one stat from last year, we were solid, but we weren’t at the top of the league. So I think we want to be a better rebounding team this year.”
“We definitely have to work on transition defense and little things we can fix,” Decortes said. “The effort of everyone is great, so [the scrimmage] was just a great start to the season.”
NEVER A DOUBT
Hahne and Decortes said they spent very little time deciding whether to return for another year at UAlbany.
“I never really said, ‘Oh, I don’t know.’ I just loved it here and I knew I was coming back. We have a great chemistry,” Decortes said.
“I think I decided pretty early that I was coming back,” said Hahne, who began her collegiate career at Wake Forest. “I felt like I had two years at a different school, but I enjoyed it so much, I definitely want to get another year here. It was an easy decision.”
It wasn’t all that surprising when UAlbany was picked first in the league’s preseason coaches’ poll. To Mullen, it’s a sign of the hard work put in, but at the same time it’s meaningless.
“Our staff has recruited unbelievably well and [improved] player development,” Mullen said, “but really, all the credit goes to the players and how much work they’ve put into everything and how bought-in they are to our culture, to each other, how unselfish they all are. The roles we ask them to play are definitely smaller than they would have on a different team. But it really doesn’t matter where you start, it matters where you finish. That’s exciting, but it’s just a preseason poll. We’re trying to keep it at that.”
“We should be confident, we should aim for that goal,” Hahne said. “But I think most of the expectations are coming from ourselves. … I think everybody has come back from the summer and elevated, working on their role trying to expand. We have a lot more players who can play multiple positions now, which is very dangerous.”
GAZETTE COVERAGEEnsure access to everything we do, today and every day, check out our subscribe page at DailyGazette.com/Subscribe
More from The Daily Gazette:
Categories: College Sports, Sports, Sports, UAlbany