The schedule for the UAlbany men’s basketball program, which was released Monday, includes four non-conference games.
If it had been released a few days earlier, it would have included five.
“I had a game, which I had set a couple weeks ago, that I just lost Friday,” UAlbany head coach Will Brown said Monday in a phone interview.
That’s been the nature of Division I basketball scheduling for the 2020-21 season, which saw its competition start date pushed back in mid-September from Nov. 10 to Nov. 25 due to concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic. With the start-date change, a corresponding reduction in the number of games teams are allowed to play, and some conferences and programs electing not to play non-conference games at all, programs had to significantly remodel their non-conference plans.
For UAlbany, that means a non-conference season with no games against opponents it initially planned to play for the 2020-21 season beyond its participation in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut. Even from that tournament, though, UAlbany lost its games at Marquette and Minnesota, while Lehigh dropped out from the bracket portion of the tournament and was replaced with Drexel.
UAlbany will open with a Nov. 28 home game against Marist before playing Dec. 3 against LIU and Dec. 4 against either Drexel or Quinnipiac at Mohegan Sun Arena. From there, UAlbany won’t play again until opening America East Conference play at SEFCU Arena against UMBC on Dec. 19-20, and then will wrap its non-conference season with a Dec. 23 home game against Bryant prior to returning to league play.
Within UAlbany’s gap of more than two weeks between playing at Mohegan Sun and against UMBC, Brown said it’s possible the Great Danes could still add a game to their schedule.
“We have up until that point [the games against UMBC] to add a couple games, if we can find them,” Brown said.
While the UAlbany men are scheduled to play four non-conference games, the UAlbany women will play five — including a Dec. 2 home game against Siena. Head coach Colleen Mullen’s Great Danes open their 2020-21 season with a Nov. 29 home game against Central Connecticut, and start league play at UMBC on Dec. 19-20.
As part of its revised format for the 2020-21 season that reduces travel amid the pandemic, the America East’s conference schedule consists primarily of teams playing on Saturdays and Sundays, with two teams playing each other on back-to-back days at one site. Each team will play one another twice during the 18-game regular season, and the format for the league’s postseason “will be announced at a later date.”
OFF FOR ELECTION DAY
For UAlbany and Siena, Tuesday is a mandatory off day from practice so athletes are able to vote. Both the America East and MAAC announced during the summer that its athletes would have Election Day off, while the NCAA Division I Council approved in September a measure that “will prohibit Division I student-athletes from practicing and competing on the first Tuesday after Nov. 1 every year to allow them to vote in elections or participate in other civic activities.”
In July, Siena men’s basketball head coach Carmen Maciariello spearheaded the creation of “Coaches 4 Change,” an organization made up of college coaches whose “mission . . . is to provide a platform that engages, educates, empowers, and evolves the collegiate student-athlete on issues of social injustices, systemic racism, and the power of voting in the endless pursuit of equality.”
Since its summer launch, the organization has centered much of its focus around facilitating voter participation. In the immediate aftermath of this year’s Election Day, Maciariello said he’s not 100% sure where the group’s focus will turn.
“There are so many different things and not enough hours in the day,” Maciariello said recently. “So we have to make sure our focus is narrow and that we’re attacking the right things.”
Last week, the organization launched a podcast hosted by Siena men’s basketball radio broadcaster A.J. Kanell. The podcast’s first episode included former Siena head coach — and current Georgetown assistant coach — Louie Orr as its guests.
Maciariello said he’s excited to see the organization continues to grow its reach.
“The toughest part was getting it all together and organized,” Maciariello said of the group, which received significant national attention upon its creation. “Now, we need to see where it goes.”
EXPANDING HIS ROLE
As a freshman, UAlbany men’s basketball’s Trey Hutcheson let his play talk for him.
Now a sophomore on a team with eight newcomers, Hutcheson plans to speak up this season.
“I’ll keep doing whatever I need to do to help us win, whether that’s shooting or if I get better at driving, handling the ball, defense, rebounding — whatever,” Hutcheson said last week. “But I think, definitely, in terms of this year compared to last year, I have a much bigger leadership role than I did last year as a freshman.”
Last season, the 6-foot-5 Hutcheson averaged 6.7 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 1.6 assists. He started 25 games for the Great Danes, and used the offseason to better his off-the-dribble skills.
“At the start of the quarantine stuff, it was tough because no gyms were open,” said Hutcheson, who is from Iowa. “It was tough to find a place to get shots up, but ball-handling is something I did a lot of this summer.”
UALBANY MEN’S BASKETBALL SCHEDULE
Nov. 28: vs. Marist
Dec. 3-4: BHOF Tip-Off Tournament, at Mohegan Sun Arena
Dec. 19-20: vs. UMBC
Dec. 23: vs. Bryant
Jan. 2-3: at Vermont
Jan. 9-10: vs. Stony Brook
Jan. 16-17: vs. NJIT
Jan. 23-24: at New Hampshire
Jan. 30-31: vs. UMass Lowell
Feb. 6-7: at Maine
Feb. 18-19: vs. Binghamton
Feb. 27-28: at Hartford
UALBANY WOMEN’S BASKETBALL SCHEDULE
Nov. 29: vs. Central Connecticut State
Dec. 2: vs. Siena
Dec. 5: at Marist
Dec. 9: at Hofstra
Dec. 15: at Army West Point
Dec. 19-20: at UMBC
Jan. 2-3: vs. Vermont
Jan. 9-10: at Stony Brook
Jan. 16-17: at NJIT
Jan. 23-24: vs. New Hampshire
Jan. 30-31: at UMass Lowell
Feb. 6-7: vs. Maine
Feb. 13-14: at Binghamton
Feb. 27-28: vs. Hartford