Albany basketball teams try to ‘stay vigilant’ about COVID as recess approaches

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ALBANY – As the University of Albany men’s and women’s basketball teams prepare for one final game before the holidays, the possibility that COVID-19 could derail their seasons seems increasingly real.

A women’s match against Division III SUNY Canton on Saturday was postponed due to COVID-19 protocols among the Kangaroos.

“It kind of brings you back to last year where there was some anxiety and just question marks, are we going to play, when are we going to play,” said Albany’s women’s coach Colleen. Mullen.

More than 30 basketball programs nationwide are affected by COVID-19 protocols, including Binghamton of the America East.

“We have to be very vigilant in the way we are in public places, paying close attention to sanitation,” Mullen said.

UAlbany requires that all students be immunized. The school does not currently need the reminder.

“I spoke to all the parents and just encouraged them, if they were comfortable, to get the vaccine, but I think it’s a personal decision families have to make,” he said. ‘Albany’s male coach Dwayne Killings.


Some of his players who were vaccinated over the summer are not yet eligible for the booster, he added.

Junior Helene Haegerstrand said the team learned from last season, when the Danes were on break after break and scheduling their opponents at the last minute, to be grateful for all they are capable of doing.

SUNY Canton’s report “felt more like a wake-up call than a disappointment,” she said. “No more masking, always. Just be (careful), clean everything, wash your hands more, all those little things you can do.

Killings spoke with his team about the need to be careful, showing them a video of all the breaks, cancellations and players who can’t enter the pitch.

“We’re only guaranteed 31 regular season chances,” he said. “COVID is out there. We could lose opportunities. So let’s manage them properly and make the most of them.

The next opportunity for the men will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday in a road game at Lehigh (1-8), which has also been hit by the COVID-19 breaks sweeping the country. The Mountain Hawks were planning to play in Syracuse on December 18, but the game was postponed. They haven’t played since December 4th.

Like the Great Danes (3-8), the Mountain Hawks are a team trying to find each other, Killings said. Perhaps the break gave them the opportunity to do so, as well as add some different looks to their defense.

“I would expect them to play in a zone,” Killings said.

Niagara’s zonal defense disrupted the Great Danes’ offense in their last outing, a 66-58 loss to the Purple Eagles in which UAlbany fell behind early.

“If we come in and can take control of the game, I think it’s going to be really healthy for us,” Killings said.

Lehigh’s only victory was a home game against Columbia, 79-72, a team the Danes also beat. The teams both lost to Yale.

Three Mountain Hawks are averaging double-digit points per game, with Evan Taylor in the lead at 11.8.

“The thing we left training with today was packing… but don’t unpack your vacation bags until we’re done doing what we need to do,” Killings said, “and that’s running our business against Lehigh.”

MEN

Albany in Lehigh

When: 7 p.m. Tuesday

Or: Stabler Arena, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Stream / Radio: ESPN +; WTMM 104.5 FM

WOMEN

UAlbany vs. CCSU

When: 7 p.m. Tuesday

Or: SEFCU Arena, Albany

Flux: ESPN +


CCSU comes to SEFCU

As the men head to Pennsylvania, the women pursue a homestand with Central Connecticut State at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

The Great Danes (5-4) will need to step up their perimeter defense against a team that scored 16 3-point goals in a win over Hartford on December 17, Mullen said.

The Blue Devils are led by Ashley Berube, who is averaging 16.8 points per game with 49.5% shooting.

“When you have shooters around a good inside presence, it stretches the defense, opens it up more for them,” Mullen said.

Albany’s defense keeps their opponents averaging 49.4 points per game with 35.9 percent from shots.

“I think we just need to keep focusing on the defense so that it really pushes our offense,” said first-year point guard Lilly Phillips.

Like the men’s team, the women try not to be distracted by the prospect of a few days off.

“Coming out really strong, finishing before the break is really important,” said Phillips.

Remarks: Freshman Ny’Mire Little (knee) was available to play on Saturday, but Killings said he chose not to play goalie. Little had a “good practice” on Monday, Killings said. … Rookie Freja Werth took home the America East Rookie of the Week honors after his 11-point performance and four assists against Canisius.

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