ALBANY — He’s not sure on a starting five or which freshmen, if any, will play significant minutes this upcoming season.
But University at Albany men’s basketball head coach Will Brown knows program newcomer Romani Hansen is going to factor into things in a big way for the Great Danes.
“Romani’s going to play a major role,” Brown said Friday after his team’s first preseason practice.
A senior forward, Hansen transferred to UAlbany from Savannah State and impressed during the Great Danes’ August trip to Canada for a series of exhibition games. The 6-foot-8 Hansen averaged near a double-double during that trip, and also made an impact on the defensive end of the court with his length and overall hustle.
“He’s super-versatile,” UAlbany redshirt sophomore guard Cameron Healy said. “He’s long. Athletic. Can jump really well. Shoot 3s. He’s a massive energy guy, too. He brings toughness, rebounding and versatility.”
Hansen, who is from the U.S. Virgin Islands, is eligible to play this season for the Great Danes since Savannah State dropped from the Division I level. Hansen had played at the junior-college level before playing last season at Savannah State, and said he knew his stay there likely would be a one-season deal. Hansen averaged 9.5 points and 5.5 rebounds last season, and said he received interest from several high-major schools after he entered into the NCAA’s transfer portal.
“But I felt like I wanted to go somewhere I knew I’d play. It’s my last year,” Hansen said. “So I looked at other schools, but I felt like UAlbany was a good fit for me, and somewhere I could come in and contribute right away.”
Hansen could play at any of the Great Danes’ frontcourt positions, but it seems most likely he plays at the 4 in big lineups and at the 5 in smaller ones. His ability to protect the rim and shoot the 3 presents a combination no other UAlbany big provides for Brown’s squad.
“And you know you’re always going to get energy and rebounding from him,” Healy said.
UAlbany started practicing last Friday and opens its season Nov. 9 against Lehigh. Hansen said he liked the enthusiastic way the Great Danes started their preseason, even if they have a ways to go in terms of getting their level of execution to where it needs to be for the 2019-20 campaign.
“But we’ve got time,” Hansen said. “We’re going to work on it, and we’re going to be good.”
UAlbany went 12-20 last season, but returns nearly every significant contributor from last season and has added several players — led by Hansen — that could earn minutes.
“If all 13 scholarship guys force me to play them, then that’s a good problem — and tough decisions for me,” Brown said.