By Dylan Manfre
With college basketball rapidly approaching, men’s basketball Head Coach Kevin Baggett raised concerns about the upcoming season as his team is spending critical preparation time in quarantine after a positive coronavirus test.
“If this is what’s going to happen every time one person tests positive, honestly I don’t see how we’re going to have a season,” Baggett said on a conference call with reporters on Nov. 9. “We’re not ready.”
The NCAA mandates any team with a positive test quarantine for 14 days. By the time the Broncs will be released, they will have one week until the start of the season.
Teams need to compete in a minimum of 13 games, per NCAA regulations, to be eligible for the NCAA tournament, slated to be held in March.
When asked if he was optimistic about potentially playing on Nov. 25, the opening day for college basketball, the ninth-year head coach expressed doubt about the possibility.
“I’m not confident at all, because to think you’re going to come out of quarantine, our guys are having to stay in their rooms for 14-days at this point,” Baggett said. “When you get back you have five days to prepare and you’re not in basketball shape, which we were getting into. … I think I would put our guys in danger if I decided for us to play on the 25th.”
On the call, first-year Iona Head Coach Rick Pitino said “if we can all get through to March, it will be a successful year.”
The league came out with a new schedule model, again.
The 20 game conference schedule reamins BUT there will be 5 home series and 5 away series for each team. Both games playing on Friday/Saturday.— Dylan Manfre (@Dylan_Manfre11) November 6, 2020
Ex: If Rider MBB hosts Monmouth for 2 games, Rider WBB plays 2 games AT Monmouth.
The goal here is to limit travel.
This alteration comes amid rising numbers of coronavirus cases surpassing 100,000 nationwide for multiple days and is an effort to mitigate travel and long road trips.
Instead of the full 20-game schedule model that was announced on Sept. 17, which sent teams traveling across New Jersey, New York and Connecticut, the 11 schools will play five home series and five away series. The two-game series will take place on Friday and Saturday, according to a news release from the league office.
For example, if Rider’s men’s basketball faces Monmouth on a Friday and Saturday at Alumni Gym, Rider’s women will play Monmouth on the same days, but in West Long Branch, New Jersey.
MAAC Commissioner Rich Ensor said the Council of Presidents, along with input from Athletic Directors, voted 6-5 on the new model.
On the preseason conference call, Saint Peter’s second-year Head Coach and reigning MAAC Coach of the Year Shaheem Halloway expressed dismay toward the ratified model.
“I wasn’t a big fan of that to tell you the truth, playing back to back. I just think we didn’t need to do it in this league, because geographically everything is so close, except Buffalo. But they made the decision so just got to roll with it. It’s going to be tough,” said Halloway.
Schools need to make a minimum of eight scholarship players available for competition, and cannot forfeit a game because a top player is out. The league will also use the same officiating crew for both games.
COVID-19 testing for officials is going to cost “a six-figure number,” according to Ensor.
Though the new model was adopted, a few aspects of the original format remain. The MAAC is keeping the blackout week for the second to last week in February which will be used to make up any cancellations.
“We’re putting these kinds of benchmarks in again, because it’s important that we get those 13 games, so we’ll see how it goes,” Ensor said. “It’s going to be an interesting year to say the least.”
Ensor added the presidents and athletic directors are working toward providing him with “emergency powers” when it comes to scheduling outside of the blackout week. A possibility could include a midweek game which does not count for the overall standings but helps a team get closer to the 13 required regular season games.
Ensor said the new model had been in the works during previous president meetings.
Follow Dylan Manfre on Twitter for the latest on the college basketball season.