ALBANY, N.Y. — In a somewhat surprising change of events, UAlbany athletics were given the green light Tuesday night to transition into Phase 3 of their return-to-play plan. On the court, that means the basketball teams could play full contact for the first time since March. The players are still required to wear masks, but if all goes well, that protocol will be lifted Nov. 1.
Women’s basketball head coach Colleen Mullen said the energy was “completely different” at practice Wednesday afternoon.
“Just the competition today, whether in a sprint or it’s competing head to head, it’s making our returners more competitive, and it’s raising the bar for everybody,” Mullen said. Senior star Kyara Frames agreed.
“It was fun,” the junior guard said. “It was intense. We finally got to compete against each other, which we’ve been waiting for for months. So it was exciting. We all pushed each other. It was just fun to see where we’re at as a team.”
The positivity was plentiful for the women’s team, which learned Wednesday that Wake Forest transfer Ellen Hahn received her NCAA waiver. The junior guard from Sweden will be immediately eligible, and will have two years left of eligibility.
The men’s team spoke with the media prior to their first contact practice.
“I have to take a deep breath because I’m sure it’ll be sloppy,” head coach Will Brown explained. “There’ll be a lot of turnovers, a lot of fouling, a lot of hands on the knees, which we need to nip in the butt early… but it beats the alternative.”
Brown tempered his enthusiasm, but explained how integral this step is in being able to truly evaluate his team. His players were also excited about that prospect.
“I’m even interested to see how we all perform against contact,” said junior guard Adam Lulka. “I’m sure it’ll be a bit iffy today for the first day, but over the next couple days of practice, we should get back to normal.”
Both teams have about a month until the start of the season.