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Brown: 4 UAlbany men's basketball players separating from pack

Brown: 4 UAlbany men's basketball players separating from pack

Great Danes getting close to having a starting five
Brown: 4 UAlbany men's basketball players separating from pack
Ahmad Clark, left, impressed during last weekend's scrimmage.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

ALBANY — Will Brown still doesn’t have a starting five.

But the University at Albany men’s basketball head coach is close to putting one together.

At the very least, Brown knows 80 percent of a starting lineup he’d use if the Great Danes had a game right away.

“I think we’re at four right now,” Brown said after Thursday’s practice for the Great Danes, who don’t play their first game of the 2018-19 season until Nov. 9 at Iona.

Those four players Brown said have separated themselves from the rest of UAlbany’s revamped roster: senior Devonte Campbell, junior Ahmad Clark, and redshirt freshmen Adam Lulka and Brent Hank.

“Right now, I would play those four guys, and everybody else is pick out of a hat right now,” said Brown, whose team participated in a closed scrimmage last weekend at Buffalo and will take on Drexel this weekend in another closed scrimmage.

There is no clear frontrunner to be that fifth starter, but a logical player to join a lineup with Campbell, Clark, Hank and Lulka would be another guard to pair in the backcourt with Clark, a player who earned solid reviews from Brown coming out of the Great Danes’ first scrimmage.

“Ahmad Clark was absolutely outstanding,” Brown said. “He was as good as anybody on the floor.”

Brown potentially could have gone further in listing off players likely to be in his opening night starting lineup, but injuries continue to hamper the Great Danes this preseason. Sophomore Cam Healy (shoulder sprain) missed a few recent practices, while freshman Antonio Rizzuto (collarbone) is set to miss the next week.

Originally, Brown said it was feared Rizzuto had broken his collarbone in Wednesday’s practice, but an X-ray revealed Rizzuto had avoided that.

“He’s sore, so five to seven days is the expectation,” Brown said of how long Rizzuto will be out of action. “If he starts to feel better prior to that, we’ll see what happens.”

Already, UAlbany has lost redshirt sophomore Jeremiah Starks (knee) for the season and sophomore Philip Flory (foot) through mid-December, at least.

1st scrimmage

Reports from last weekend’s scrimmage were that Buffalo got the better of UAlbany, and nothing any of the Great Danes said Thursday suggested otherwise.

“We’re growing,” UAlbany junior Kendall Lauderdale said, “and with us being a new team, we have a lot of room to grow.”

“We could have executed better,” Hank said.

Brown said his team is “probably a  good week behind of where I’d hoped to be” at this point in the preseason.

“I am a little bit worried,” Brown said. “My staff would tell you I’m worried every day, all year long, but I’m really worried right now because I want to make sure that by the time we get to the first game that we have everything in for every scenario we potentially could see heading into that first game, and we’re nowhere near that point.”

UAlbany, which lost eight players from last season’s roster, was picked to finish tied for fourth in this month’s preseason America East coaches poll.

Reach Michael Kelly at [email protected] or @ByMichaelKelly on Twitter.

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