The UAlbany men’s lacrosse team is set to play two extra games against America East Conference opponents this season, but the final word on scheduling won’t be delivered until Jan. 27.
The Siena men’s team, meanwhile, is looking at a schedule that includes only MAAC opponents and probably won’t start until March 6, head coach Liam Gleason said.
UAlbany head coach Scott Marr said the America East coaches settled on their format during a conference call on Monday, and the next two steps toward finalizing it will be a meeting of the Championships and Competition Committee (CCC) on Thursday, followed by a meeting of league athletic directors next week.
The framework of the Great Danes’ schedule does include some non-conference games, starting with Drexel on Feb. 27. Games that had been lined up, but won’t be played, against Harvard and Maryland, would be replaced by conference rivals Hartford and Vermont.
That would give UAlbany nine games against America East teams.
Hanging over all these prospects, of course, is the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Hopefully, as the warmer weather comes and some of the vaccine gets out, hopefully it starts to slow down,” Marr said. “But nobody’s talking real positive right now about it slowing down anytime in the next two months.”
Gleason said the eight-team MAAC had been talking about splitting into two divisions, North and South, and confining three extra conference games to division rivals.
Siena would’ve been in the North with St. Bonaventure, Detroit Mercy and Canisius, and played those three in the weeks leading up to the MAAC schedule proper.
Instead, the start date has been pushed back to March 6, leaving room for just one of those preliminary games.
He expects to find out more this week.
“We don’t know where they’re going to go with that,” Gleason said. “Are they going to keep that date the 6th with the opponent we were supposed to play, or are they going to allow us to open it up to scrimmaging other teams in the conference?
“In Division I lacrosse, there was no universal start date. Teams are all over the place, so down South you’ve got some teams that have been practicing already, and then you’ve got guys like us who probably will be one of the last teams going.”
Bellarmine, in Louisville, was the first Division I team to officially fill a schedule, and will open at Mercer on Jan. 30.
The school, which plays in the Southern Conference, has 16 regular-season games lined up.
Siena will wind up with eight, all in the MAAC, which could have some games as early as Feb. 1, putting the Saints two weeks behind the competition.
“But, fortunately, we still have an opportunity to win our conference and get that AQ [automatic qualifier to the NCAA Tournament],” Gleason said. “Those are going to be the most important games, and they’re also the only games we’ll get this year. Trying to get ourselves dialed in before the first one that counts, that’s what we’re still trying to figure out.”
Siena will start some coordinated team activities next week with what Gleason calls a “three-week virtual boot camp.”
Classes begin on campus on Feb. 22.
“I think it’s more difficult when they see maybe another team going already, but I made it clear to them that everybody’s got their own challenges and ways of doing things,” Gleason said. “Now more than ever, just sticking to the mantra of focusing on the things you can control, because it’s a waste of time thinking about stuff you don’t even have the answer to.
“We’re not on the field, but that doesn’t mean we can’t start doing something.”