Albany head coach Will Brown looked at his staff and said it was time to make a change in late November.
He and his staff agreed that they were going to start junior Anthony Odunsi, a junior college transfer who played his first season at the University of Utah before opting for junior college, and play him for a hefty amount of minutes just to see what he could do to help their team for conference play. They were prepared to see him make some mistakes, but hoped that his talent would come out and help the Great Danes to another tournament championship run.
Two days later he took a bad spill, cracked his head on the floor, and was ruled out for the season with a concussion. Quickly the player that Brown said was “probably a game away from being a major contributor” was about as far from entering a game as possible for the rest of the season.
“He has not done anything, since he was diagnosed with the concussion, he has not been cleared,” Brown said in mid-April that Odunsi’s status was still out. “This is the third [concussion] he’s had in his career and by far the worst one.”
Brown said that he will seek a redshirt for Odunsi, most likely a medical redshirt, which shouldn’t be a problem considering he played just 25 minutes in five games in the month of November.
Albany was plagued by injuries throughout the 2013-14 season and hopes to leave those behind next season. Freshman Mike Rowley, the younger brother of junior Sam, suffered a concussion during the final month of the season in practice and surgery to repair a broken foot means he won’t be ready to practice until June. Senior Luke Devlin exits with another conference championship, but battled back injuries throughout the season and needed an epidural shot during the month of December.
“He never practiced, all he did was play in the games that he was capable of playing in,” Brown said of Devlin. “Sometimes, when we put him and we took him out, he couldn’t go back in.”
While the Great Danes got healthy at the right time to win their second straight conference tournament championship, they will look to rid the injury bug to make a run at their first regular season championship since the 2005-06 season.
“We think we’ll be able to compete for an America East conference championship next year,” Brown said. “I think if we can stay healthy, I think we’ll be able to compete for a regular season championship, but you have to have good players, you have to stay healthy and you have to have some luck on your side.”
Ryan Restivo covers the America East conference, the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and Hofstra for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanarestivo or contact Ryan at rrestivo[at]nycbuckets.com.