ALBANY — Not too long ago, Romani Hansen didn’t like what he saw.
He was watching footage of himself, and what Hansen — a 6-foot-8 senior forward on the UAlbany men’s basketball team — saw was a player not giving his all.
That, he said, was unacceptable.
Needed to change.
“There were some possessions I kind of took off,” Hansen said. “So when I’m getting out there now, I’m trying to play as hard as I can, for as long as I can.”
A major reason UAlbany men’s basketball head coach Will Brown wanted Hansen to join his program was for all the activity Hansen — who played last season at Savannah State — brought to the court. Hansen impressed during the Great Danes’ summer trip to Canada for a series of games, in the preseason and into the early part of this season with all the loose balls he secured and shots of the opposition he affected.
And . . . then . . . Hansen seemed to let his offensive struggles affect the best part of his game, which is how he uses his length, athleticism and energy to contribute in ways that don’t always show up in the box score.
“He needs to stop trying to be Paul George,” Brown said at a recent practice, “and do the things that he can do to help us win.”
Heading into Monday’s 7 p.m. game at Columbia, Hansen has returned to playing the role UAlbany needs him to play for the team’s last couple games. He had six points and seven rebounds in 19 minutes against St. John’s, then had 10 points and 10 rebounds — plus a steal and a blocked shot — in 24 minutes against Monmouth.
“It’s more about energy than anything,” Hansen said of what went right for him in the Great Danes’ last two games.
He added: “It just starts with what I can control.”
That’s the effort Hansen can bring to the court, and Brown’s liked what he’s seen in recent games after Hansen had a five-game stretch in which he played fewer than 10 minutes on three occasions.
The activity is back, the energy is there.
“If he continues to do those things,” Brown said, “his minutes will continue to increase.”
On the season, Hansen is averaging 4.9 points and 4.6 rebounds in 18.7 minutes per game. He’d like all those numbers to be better, but Hansen said he understands his top concern each game needs to be producing the hustle plays he has a unique ability to provide.
“That’s something this team needs,” Hansen said.
Via text message, Brown said UAlbany redshirt sophomore Cameron Healy (hip) had “practiced some” Sunday, and his availability against Columbia will be a game-time decision.
Healy — the Great Danes’ leading scorer on the season — was hurt in UAlbany’s Dec. 21 loss at Monmouth, and missed multiple practices following his injury.
Redshirt sophomore Adam Lulka (ankle) is expected to miss his second consecutive game. Earlier this season, Lulka missed seven consecutive games with the same injury.
At 6-8 on the season, UAlbany is 4-2 at its home SEFCU Arena.
Its other two wins, though, came playing at Quinnipiac against Sacred Heart and Presbyterian. In true road games this season, UAlbany brings a 0-6 mark into its matchup at 4-9 Columbia.
“We’ve lost some close ones on the road,” said UAlbany senior Ahmad Clark, whose team has suffered half its road losses in games decided by two possessions or fewer.
UAlbany's trip to Columbia represents the end of the team’s non-conference season. Before shifting to facing America East Conference foes, Hansen said earning a road win would not be a small accomplishment for the Great Danes.
“I think it does matter. You want to win every game, but good teams win road games,” Hansen said. “You protect home and try to split on the road. If we want to be a good team, we’ve got to learn how to win on the road.”