ALBANY — It’s a tough spot. Head coach Colleen Mullen recognizes that.
But with junior guard Kyara Frames dealing with an injury, it’s likely University at Albany women's basketball freshman guards Morgan Haney and Izzy Om will need to shoulder playmaking responsibilities for the Great Danes in their season opener at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
“They have to be ready to play,” Mullen said Monday ahead of her team’s matchup with Columbia at SEFCU Arena. “They have to give us good minutes.”
Frames suffered her undisclosed injury last week, and was at last Thursday’s practice with a walking boot supporting her right foot and ankle. Mullen said Frames is “day to day,” but even if UAlbany’s leading scorer from last season plays against Columbia, Mullen said the guard will see “limited minutes” after not practicing in recent days.
Both Haney and Om were likely to play even if Frames — who wasn’t made available for comment Monday — was healthy. Until Frames is back to 100 percent, though, the Great Danes will need Haney and Om to play major minutes. While Haney is more of a combo guard capable of playing both backcourt spots, Om is a pure point guard and could end up starting her first college game.
“It’s a big role to take on, especially playing the point against a very talented team that’s athletic,” Om said. “Having to be the extension of Coach on court, that’s a lot, but I feel ready and the team’s ready.”
In Mullen’s first season leading UAlbany, the Great Danes went 13-18 after starting 1-9. UAlbany began to turn its season around with a late-December 62-58 win at Columbia, a program that returns all five of its starters and 91 percent of its scoring from last season.
From last season, UAlbany lost key forwards Chyanna Canada and Heather Forster. While the team will rely on returning players such as redshirt senior Amanda Kantzy, senior Alexi Schecter and redshirt junior guard Khepera Stokes, the Great Danes also have six freshmen looking to add punch to the team’s lineup. Besides Haney and Om, Mullen listed freshman Helene Haegerstrand — a 6-foot-1 forward from Sweden — as someone who should play right away.
“We have a lot of young kids,” Mullen said. “We’ve got the six freshmen, so we’re figuring out the rotation.”
Mullen said she likely won’t know until shortly before the Great Danes tip off their 2019-20 season if Frames will play that night at all. Whether or not her star guard -- who was a preseason all-conference selection in the America East -- plays, though, Mullen said she expects her team to execute at a high level.
“As coaches, you focus and tell your players to focus on controlling the controllables,” Mullen said. “We have to do all the things that take no talent, and control what’s within our control.”