ALBANY — Last week, University at Albany men’s basketball head coach Will Brown was most of the way along to naming his team’s starting lineup for opening night against Iona.
And, then, the past week happened, which led Friday to Brown to finish going through his team’s injury list like this: “Who else? That’s enough.”
While Brown previously named senior Devonte Campbell, junior Ahmad Clark, and redshirt freshmen Brent Hank and Adam Lulka as likely starters for Nov. 9 at Iona, the availability of both Hank and Lulka is now uncertain for the Great Danes. Hank crashed to the floor — hard — during Friday’s practice, and left the workout midway through to get an X-ray on his hip. Meanwhile, Lulka has been sick for the past week, and missed several practices.
“It is what it is,” Brown said. “The one thing you can’t control as a coach is injuries.”
Already this preseason, UAlbany lost redshirt sophomore Jeremiah Starks (knee) for the season, and the Great Danes don’t know if sophomore Philip Flory (foot) will play.
“Injuries are bound to happen, whether you like it or not,” Campbell said. “You’ve got to learn as a basketball player just to get through it.”
Making things worse, though, for the Great Danes is that the latest injury to freshman Antonio Rizzuto — who returned from a knee surgery earlier this year — was worse than expected. Rizzuto was originally supposed to miss a week with a bruised collarbone, but further tests in the past week showed Rizzuto actually cracked his sternum. He is likely out until late November.
“It’s a shame because he was slowly separating himself from a bunch of guys,” Brown said.
With Rizzuto out of the immediate picture, two players — redshirt freshman Cam Healy and senior Rayshawn Miller — have emerged as likely candidates to start at guard alongside Clark, but the Great Danes’ overall health woes have made projecting a starting lineup even tougher for Brown.
The coach’s expectations, though, won’t change about the type of success his revamped roster can achieve in the 2018-19 season.
“I want to win every darn game that we play. I’m going to be more patient than I’ve ever been because I have to be because of our youth and our inexperience,” Brown said. “But that’s not going to be — listen, excuses are for losers, in my opinion.
“We’ve been banged up for the last couple of weeks,” Brown continued. “We’re young and we’re inexperienced, [but] find a way to get it done. That’s what it’s all about.”
One potential move the Great Danes could make is to shift the 6-foot-6 Campbell from the 3 to the 4, which would allow UAlbany to get more minutes from its healthy guards such as Clark, Healy and Miller.
Campbell, who has played the 3 for nearly all of his career at UAlbany, said he has no problem making a position switch.
“If I’ve got to play the 4 for us to be successful,” Campbell said, “that’s what I have to do.”