Drumgoole an iron man playing nearly every minute for undermanned UAlbany men’s basketball

University at Albany's Gerald Drumgoole takes a shot while being blocked by Florida Atlantic's Vladislav Goldin at Hudson Valley Community College Saturday, November 26, 2022.
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University at Albany's Gerald Drumgoole takes a shot while being blocked by Florida Atlantic's Vladislav Goldin at Hudson Valley Community College Saturday, November 26, 2022.

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ALBANY — Gerald Drumgoole Jr.’s first season with UAlbany men’s basketball consisted of 10 minutes of in-game action, followed by a season-ending knee injury.

This season — and especially recently — with injuries piling up on the rest of the Great Danes’ roster, it’s almost impossible to get Drumgoole out of the game.

In UAlbany’s last four games, Drumgoole — a 6-foot-5 senior forward from Rochester — has played 159 out of a possible 160 minutes. He’s gone the full 40 minutes without a break in three straight games for the Great Danes (1-4 America East, 6-14 overall), who return to action Thursday at 7 p.m. when they host Binghamton at Hudson Valley Community College.

It’s an iron man stretch that’s taking its toll.

“It’s kind of been difficult,” Drumgoole said following Wednesday’s practice. “It’s something I have to do for the team, obviously. It is what it is. I’ve been preparing my whole life. My injury [last season] set me back a little bit, but it’s something I prepared for in the offseason. That’s what comes with the game of basketball.”

UAlbany’s seemingly ever-increasing list of injuries and absences have forced head coach Dwayne Killings to ask a lot of Drumgoole this season, both in terms of sheer minutes and in the load he’s had to carry for the Great Danes on offense.

Two UAlbany players — Justin Neely (knee) and Ny’mire Little (hip) — suffered injuries that put an end to their respective seasons before November was through. Will Amica (hip) hasn’t played since Dec. 14, and Killings said Wednesday that the sophomore guard would remain out for the “foreseeable future,” while guard Malik Edmead (finger) has missed six straight games.

Those injuries left UAlbany with nine healthy players last week, a number that was trimmed to eight when sophomore wing Aaron Reddish didn’t dress for either of last week’s games against Bryant and NJIT for failing to live up to “program standards,” according to Killings. Then Trey Hutcheson suffered a back injury in practice last Friday and didn’t suit up against NJIT, leaving UAlbany with just seven players in uniform for Saturday’s 74-67 loss.

That’s necessitated a lot out of the versatile Drumgoole.

“It’s crazy,” graduate student guard Sarju Patel said. “I haven’t seen that many minutes for consecutive games.”

“It’s a lot to ask from any player, especially a kid that’s coming back from injury,” Killings said. “You want to get him off the floor, but also, in certain spots in the game, you want to keep him out there because he has a chance to make shots and make plays.”

During this grueling stretch, Drumgoole’s also been forced to carry a huge chunk of UAlbany’s perimeter offense. He’s averaging 20.8 points per game over the four games, including a career-high 29 points on 9 of 22 shooting — and 5 of 15 from 3-point range — against NJIT.

The senior, who transferred to UAlbany from Pittsburgh prior to the 2021-22 season, leads UAlbany in scoring at 15.8 points per game, while his 5.3 rebounds per game ranks second behind freshman Jonathan Beagle. As a 3-point shooter, Drumgoole represents 31.6% of UAlbany’s attempts and 34.6% of the Great Danes made shots from beyond the arc this season.

“I’ve taken a tremendous amount of pride in my game this year,” Drumgoole said. “That’s where the offseason work comes in. Just having trust and belief in myself. [There was] a lot of self doubt at times and moments like last year, where I’m sitting on the bench watching everybody play, but I just stayed on the path and took it day-by-day.”

At least some relief is on the way. Killings said Wednesday that Edmead is expected to play against Binghamton, while the status of Reddish — who was a full participant in practice on Wednesday — is still “day-to-day” and it will be decided Thursday whether he’ll suit up and return to the lineup. Hutcheson is not expected to play against Binghamton.

Any bolstering of UAlbany’s lineup could go a long way to giving Drumgoole even a little bit of in-game respite.

“If we can get some bodies back,” Killings said, “we won’t have to ask so much of him. But, when we have to play a college basketball game with seven guys, somebody’s got to play a lot of minutes, and it’s Gerald. He wants the minutes. He wants the opportunity. He wants to win.”

It’s taken a lot of work between games — massages during road trips, cryotherapy when back at home — to keep Drumgoole up and running for these marathon stretches.

“We’re doing everything to get him ready to play,” Killings said. “I think people just see the game, but the things that lead up to the game is what’s impressive about any athlete — especially student-athletes.”

Categories: College Sports, Sports, UAlbany

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