ALBANY — His team had its latest restart of in-person activities begin Saturday, and UAlbany men’s basketball head coach Will Brown said he envisions his Great Danes not playing a game until their America East Conference opener two weeks after that.
“Our goal needs to be to get to the 19th, hopefully without any more interruptions or pauses,” Brown said Sunday. “Right now, we need to be able to ramp up our cardio, our conditioning.”
Brown had left open the possibility his team could play a non-conference game prior to its back-to-back games against UMBC at SEFCU Arena, but the team’s latest pause — which robbed the Great Danes of practices on Thursday and Friday — seems to have closed the possibility of UAlbany playing prior to its Dec. 19 conference opener.
“Those first two games [against UMBC] are really important for us, so we need to get ourselves ready for them from a conditioning standpoint,” Brown said.
UAlbany’s athletic department announced Thursday that both its basketball programs had halted in-person activities, again, because of issues related to the novel coronavirus pandemic. The women’s program paused Monday and the men’s program paused Wednesday. An athletic department statement issued Thursday said that both UAlbany’s basketball programs were “on a temporary pause from team activities due to presumptive positive tests among individuals associated with both programs’ Tier 1 group” and that “further testing and contact tracing are being conducted to determine the length of the pause and whether any additional measures are necessary.”
The women’s basketball program was able to resume in-person activities on Friday after PCR and saliva tests for all of the program’s Tier 1 members returned negative results, while UAlbany athletic director Mark Benson and Brown said the men’s team was able to resume Saturday after contact tracing and further testing was completed.
“Our head trainer, Jay Geiger, worked closely with our COVID point person campus, who works directly with the Department of Health, and based on our reports and contact tracing, we were given the OK to resume practice,” said Brown, whose players are wearing masks during practices. “Obviously, the person that tested positive has to quarantine.”
Both UAlbany basketball teams have needed to pause in-person activities several times since the start of the fall semester. All of those breaks have left the UAlbany teams behind schedule, and Brown said this week is a crucial one for his group as it now appears on track to start its 2020-21 season with conference play.
“We need to start making practices more difficult,” Brown said.