By Christian Hince | October 30, 2023
The University at Albany women’s basketball team is bringing back a crucial name two weeks ahead of the season. Helene Haegerstrand, a two-time all-America East player and UAlbany’s sixth leading scorer of all time, has chosen to use her final year of eligibility.
Haegerstrand during a media availability on Oct. 27.
Photo Credit: Vince Gasparini / The ASP
“I'm just excited to get whatever I can to finish where I started,” Haegerstrand said.
The 6-1 forward from Sweden had spent the preseason assisting the team during practice in a graduate assistant capacity while dealing with a nagging “leg injury.” Now though, she finds it manageable enough to play with.
“It really just came down to having the durability to last and doing whatever I can, and they were all really excited [when I made my decision to return],” she said.
While Haegerstrand isn’t a captain this year, head coach Colleen Mullen is looking forward to seeing her leadership presence on a team which lost five upperclassmen after last season. “She competes at a high level, and she can lead by example, but [she’s] also just a terrific role model for the younger players to emulate and look up to,” Mullen said.
Haegerstrand, who has a career scoring average of 11.4 points per game, was second on the team in 2022-23 with 14.2 per outing and 47.5% shooting from the field. Haegerstrand’s return should be a significant boost beyond the arc, with Haegerstrand leading the Great Danes last year at 39% from three.
“Her ability to stretch the defense is critical,” Mullen said. “I think when you have to worry about a 6-2 three-point shooter and somebody that can score around the basket, it opens up more opportunities for those around.”
After being recruited to the team from Sweden in 2018, Haegerstrand has since found a valuable level of comfort. “In the beginning, when you move that far away from Sweden, it's just a whole new experience,” Haegerstrand said. “You get to know people, you get closer and closer, and before you know [it] you have a second home.”
As UAlbany is still a premier program in America East with a wide range of experience on the team, Haegerstrand hopes for everybody to gel well for the best season possible. “We have a few fifth-years and a good group of freshmen coming in, and [I want] for everyone to have a good experience and to know that this is a great place to be.”