UAlbany men’s basketball takes on Bryant, hoping to pull out of losing spiral

Coach with whistle around neck speaks, hands raised with player in foreground

UAlbany men's basketball coach Dwayne Killings recently.

ALBANY — Dwayne Killings has seen this kind of season play out before.

As an assistant coach at Temple during the 2013-14 season, Killings was part of a program that finished 9-22, including 19 losses in its final 24 games. 

Over the following two seasons, that Temple program won 47 games, reaching the semifinals of the National Invitation Tournament in 2015 and earning an at-large NCAA tournament berth in 2016.

With UAlbany men’s basketball languishing at 6-19 overall and 1-9 in America East play 25 games into Killings’ second season with the Great Danes, it was only natural on Tuesday for the head coach to draw some parallels to his past.

“It was a hard year, but we learned how to win,” said Killings, whose team will try to snap a seven-game losing streak Wednesday when it welcomes Bryant to Hudson Valley Community College’s McDonough Sports Complex for a 7 p.m. matchup. “There’s no quit in this group. You can see that guys are in the gym early, getting shots. I think there’s a lot of frustration, because we haven’t won the games.”

In a campaign thrown off the rails early by season-ending injuries to sophomores Justin Neely — the reigning America East Rookie of the Year — and Ny’Mire Little, not much at all has gone right for the Great Danes.

Two of UAlbany’s six wins this season have come against Division III schools — Union and Immaculata — and the Great Danes have just one true road win against a Division I opponent, an 83-78 win on Dec. 20 against Northern Illinois.

Half of UAlbany’s Division I wins are against teams rated in the bottom 30 nationally in the database. Presbyterian ranks 334th, while LIU is the lowest-rated of all 363 Division I teams. UAlbany ranks 347th in the database.

With six games left in the regular season, UAlbany is in last place in the America East, 2 1/2 games behind NJIT for the eighth and final spot in the conference playoffs.

“A lot of it, when you watch the film, it’s these individual moments where we just have to be better,” Killings said. “We have to be more disciplined about it … we have to go execute it better.”

Despite the struggles, Killings and his players say they’re still focused on doing as much as they can throughout February to turn the fate of their season around, rather than merely trudge to the finish line of a seemingly lost season.

“If we get one win coming up,” senior forward Gerald Drumgoole Jr. said, “it’ll just carry the momentum into the next couple games for us. We still have a chance to get to the postseason, so we’re just going to keep playing hard.”

“You need a little luck on your side,” Killings said. “You need execution on your side. You need one or two plays to go your way, you need a call to go your way. It hasn’t happened, but I’d rather it happen late than early.”

Categories: College Sports, Sports, UAlbany

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