ALBANY — He’s known for his scoring and 3-point shooting, but not necessarily his highlights on the defensive end of the court.
So when redshirt sophomore Cameron Healy blocked the shot of classmate Adam Lulka during Monday’s UAlbany men’s basketball practice, it got the attention of his teammates, especially 6-foot-8 senior Romani Hansen, who smiled wide and reacted excitedly at the sight of the 6-foot-3 Healy timing up his swat of a shot from the 6-foot-8 Lulka. Healy, who has blocked six shots in his 57-game UAlbany career, laughed when his defensive highlight was brought up after the Great Danes’ workout, and joked that a day-long grudge held because of something Lulka had said to him at breakfast provided the energy for the rejection.
All in all, an amusing play — but also one that represented an incredibly encouraging sign for the Great Danes, who desperately need Healy (hip/back) at something close to full strength as they head into the final five games of their regular season. After missing UAlbany’s loss last Wednesday at Hartford, Healy came off the bench in Sunday’s win at Maine and left that game encouraged with the direction he’s headed.
“I like where the team’s at, and I like where I’m at in terms of my injury status,” said Healy, who didn’t appear to be dealing with any physical limitations during Monday’s workout. “So I’m feeling better out there on the court and I’m ready to get back in the swing of things, and it starts [Thursday] with UMBC at home.”
Healy returned to play 18 minutes off the bench for UAlbany in its 66-60 win at Maine. The guard had eight points on 2 of 8 shooting, and made 2 of 6 long-range attempts to increase his streak of consecutive games played with a 3-point make to 57. On the season, Healy is the Great Danes’ second-leading scorer at 15.6 points per game.
Healy has dealt with his injury issue, on and off, since late December. It got worse in late January, and he had to leave the Great Danes’ Feb. 5 win against Binghamton after only playing eight minutes. Since he exited that game against Binghamton, he hadn’t done much court work until this past Saturday in advance of returning after a one-game absence.
“I thought he got winded quick,” UAlbany head coach Will Brown said of Healy’s outing at Maine. “I thought he was tired.”
Brown said he is “not sure” if he’ll return Healy to the team’s starting lineup Thursday against UMBC, but the plan is to increase Healy’s minutes by at least a few. On the season, Healy is averaging 30.7 minutes per game.
“We want to make sure that he’s feeling good as we move forward, so we don’t have any potential setbacks,” Brown said. “Obviously, we need him as healthy as we can get him for us to be as effective as we’re capable of being as a team.”
Healy said he is operating at “80, 90% right now, so I’m good to go” as the Great Danes look to improve upon their third-place standing in the America East Conference.
“For me, now, it’s just shaking that rust off, really,” Healy said. “Getting back to where I was.”
In UAlbany’s win at Maine, senior Ahmad Clark collected 23 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.
According to sports-reference.com’s database, Clark is the first UAlbany player to record at least 20 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in a game since Gerardo Suero had 22 points, seven rebounds and eight assists in a 2011 loss against Maryland.
Clark is leading UAlbany this season in points (16.3), assists (four) and steals (1.3) per game.
BACK AND FORTH
Win, loss, win, loss, win, loss, win, loss, win.
That’s how UAlbany’s last nine games have played out, as the Great Danes have rotated between wins and losses since mid-January.
The win to start that stretch of nine games closed out a season-best winning streak of four games.