ALBANY — Ideally, UAlbany women’s basketball head coach Colleen Mullen said after Wednesday’s practice at SEFCU Arena, the Great Danes’ non-conference schedule will include at least six games.
And . . . that’s because Mullen said she’s preparing for a less-than-ideal trip through a non-conference season she expects to be a bumpy one.
“Mostly because I anticipate there’s going to be a pause,” Mullen said. “I anticipate we may lose a game.”
The potential for a “pause” or need to cancel a game because of issues related to the coronavirus pandemic is an unyielding concern for college basketball teams as they continue to try to put together their non-conference schedule. Mullen said she has “handshakes” for deals to play games against five other programs, but that her program’s schedule continues to shift with the sport’s start date of Nov. 25 just more than a month away.
“I don’t want to have too many [non-conference games], or have too few because I could risk not having any games to prepare for the conference,” said Mullen, whose team won’t hold a full-contact practice until Nov. 2.
Earlier this week, the America East Conference announced its format for conference games during the 2020-21 season. The league’s plan calls for all games to be played on Saturdays and Sundays, with two teams playing each other on back-to-back days at one site.
“It’s definitely going to be tough, but it’s the same for every team,” sophomore Helene Haegerstrand said. “We’re all going to have to prepare for the same games.”
“It’s a great model because I think it’s pretty much the only model that’s going to work in terms of how we’re testing three days a week,” Mullen said.
League play for UAlbany is set to start Dec. 19.
The America East schedule will include some open weekends to allow teams to be able to make up games postponed due to the pandemic.
UAlbany athletics moved into Phase II this week of its resocialization plan, a change that allowed the school’s basketball teams to move a bit closer to normalcy.
While 5-on-5 work amongst players remains prohibited, masks need to be worn and social-distancing is required when capable, the UAlbany teams are now allowed to have up to 25 individuals — rather than 10 — on the same court at one time.
That meant Mullen’s team Wednesday was able to mostly work on one court, rather than spread out among the three courts that run parallel to each other in SEFCU Arena like they did last week.
“I think we’re all living in a weird world right now. It feels very strange,” Mullen said of the Great Danes’ preseason. “It’s definitely challenging our creativity, for sure, as coaches. I know the players are so excited to be back on the court, but it’s very strange at this point in the game, knowing that in a few short weeks, we’re going to be having a competition against outside teams, and we haven’t even competed against each other yet.”
Since players are unable to compete against each other, UAlbany coaches have stood in during some drills to simulate where an opponent would be positioned.
“All of us coaches have been out there, lacing it up — and looking pretty old and rusty,” Mullen said.
BACK FOR MORE?
Senior guard Kyara Frames said Wednesday she’d want to take advantage of the NCAA’s recent decision to afford winter-sport athletes an extra year of eligibility, something the association previously granted for fall and spring athletes.
“I’m a gym rat. I love basketball,” said Frames, UAlbany’s leader last season in assists, and third-leading scorer and rebounder. “If they want to go ahead and give me another year, I’m definitely going to utilize that. That’s something I would really enjoy.”
Frames said she’d use the extra year to pursue a graduate degree.
“I’m the first person in my family to go to college,” Frames said. “So I definitely want to set the blueprint for everybody else in my family.”