His team has played 15 games and starts America East Conference play this weekend.
But UAlbany men’s basketball head coach Will Brown still needs some time to develop a strong sense of where his team’s season is headed. Brown made that clear Thursday when asked about his team’s progress during a league conference call with reporters.
“This is pretty simple for us,” Brown said. “I have no idea how good we are.”
With Saturday’s league opener at Binghamton looming, UAlbany is 7-8 after dealing with one injury after another during the non-conference season. Only five Great Danes have appeared in every game this season, as more than another full five-man lineup has missed at least one game because of injury.
The availability of redshirt sophomore Adam Lulka remains UAlbany’s most significant “question mark” as the Great Danes ready for conference play. A sprained ankle suffered during mid-November has continued to linger as an issue for the 6-foot-8 forward who has only appeared in six games.
“We need him in the lineup,” Brown said of Lulka, who serves as UAlbany’s top big man when healthy.
Brown said Lulka was expected to participate in half-court activities at Thursday’s practice. If everything went well, Lulka could play Saturday at Binghamton. After that game at Binghamton, UAlbany doesn’t play again until the following Saturday, and Brown said Lulka is expected to return to the team’s lineup no later than during that game against Maine.
Before the 2019-20 season started, UAlbany’s core appeared likely to be made up of Lulka and fellow sophomores Malachi de Sousa, Cameron Healy and Antonio Rizzuto, redshirt junior Jojo Anderson, and seniors Ahmad Clark and Romani Hansen. The expectation is that UAlbany soon will finally suit up all those players for the same game, something that hasn’t happened yet this season.
“Then,” Brown said, “I’ll have a better feel for where we’re at.”
While injury woes robbed UAlbany of the opportunity to utilize its full roster for any single game during the non-conference season, that meant players who might have struggled to break into the mix received extra opportunity to do that.
No player took advantage of that chance more than freshman Trey Hutcheson, a wing player who projected to struggle this season to find available minutes because of UAlbany’s depth on the perimeter. Instead, Hutcheson has appeared in every game and started 10 of them, while averaging 24 minutes, 6.9 points and 3.3 rebounds per game while shooting 38.5% from 3-point territory.
“With him, he’s been a pleasant surprise — and what I really like about him is he’s starting to get more and more aggressive on the offensive end,” Brown said.
Hutcheson played UAlbany’s first 15 games despite needing to wear a brace because of a torn tendon in a knuckle on his left ring finger. Hutcheson was able to practice Wednesday for the first time since the preseason without wearing his brace, and his hand should be fine moving forward.