ALBANY — In a move that seemed inevitable, the UAlbany men’s basketball program canceled the first three games on its 2020-21 schedule, which previously was revised following the NCAA’s mid-September decision to delay the entire season’s start for 15 days.
The Great Danes haven’t practiced since Nov. 2, and were supposed to debut Nov. 28 against a Marist program that still has not conducted a full practice. That game was canceled Thursday, as was UAlbany’s “Bubbleville” trip to play Dec. 3-4 against Drexel and Quinnipiac at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.
“The expectation at all levels is to have an abbreviated season with cancellations, postponements and adjustments,” UAlbany head coach Will Brown said Thursday evening. “We’ve just got to plan accordingly as we move forward.”
For now, the UAlbany women’s basketball program’s Nov. 29 opening game against Central Connecticut remains on its schedule, but head coach Colleen Mullen’s team hasn’t practiced since Nov. 9. Both UAlbany basketball teams still don’t know when they will be allowed to resume practicing following the university’s move fully to remote learning for the remainder of the fall semester, a decision that paused all in-person athletic activities.
Along with UAlbany’s teams, both Siena basketball teams are currently not practicing after needing to pause in-person activities following positive coronavirus cases found within their programs’ Tier 1 personnel members. Early season games for both groups of Saints need to be rescheduled, too, including the women’s game between Siena and UAlbany that is currently scheduled for Dec. 2.
“There’s going to be a lot of movement moving forward,” Brown said.
How fast could things change? Within coaching circles, Brown said there is talk that programs could schedule games as they go along with “handshake deals” made with little notice in an effort to make sure teams reach the minimum 13 games needed to qualify for the 2021 NCAA tournament.
“I think there will be a lot of deals made 48-to-72 hours before teams actually play,” Brown said.
At the moment, the UAlbany men’s basketball program’s first scheduled game is its Dec. 19 home matchup against UMBC, which is the Great Danes’ first America East Conference game. Brown said it is a “strong possibility” the Great Danes won’t play a game until conference play.
At this point, his team has only had five full-contact practices and Brown said the Great Danes will need to take things slow once they start back up after halting activities for multiple weeks.
“But our kids have been really good about it all,” Brown said. “They’ve been staying focused on academics and the few things they can control.”