Though still far from clear, the outline of a UConn men’s basketball schedule for 2020-21 is becoming visible.
It could include games, without fans, at Gampel Pavilion starting Nov. 25, the day the NCAA designated as the start of the season, followed by nonconference games at the Mohegan Sun, centered around the Legends Classic in early December.
The Big East is still hashing out details, but would like to start conference play as early as Dec. 12, although they would have to work around final exams scheduled for that week at UConn (Dec. 12-19, done virtually), among other schools.
Where and how the 20 conference games would be played — 11 teams playing each of 10 opponents twice — is subject to the direction of the coronavirus, and health and safety protocols. Some conference games could be staged in a single-site bubble, with Mohegan Sun and Omaha, Neb., discussed. Some games could be played in pods of four teams at conference campus sites, including UConn. The conference schedule won’t be out for at least a week.
The NCAA is allowing men’s teams to play up to 27 games including multi-team events, and UConn will try to play that full complement. It is recommended, but not required, that teams play at least four nonconference games; UConn will schedule seven, if possible.
The Legends Classic, originally to include UConn, Notre Dame, Vanderbilt and Southern Cal at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn Nov. 23 and 24, is almost certain to be moved to the Mohegan Sun, in a bubble environment, Dec. 2 and 3. An agreement to schedule the games there is very close, but not completely done, according to a source with knowledge of the event.
Several other multi-team events are expected to be played in Mohegan Sun in late November, early December, offering UConn some other opportunities. But with the UConn campus virtually empty by Nov. 25, opposing teams could conceivably arrive, play a game and leave without issues regarding health and safety guidelines, so there could be games there between Nov. 25 and Dec. 2.
Games played at Mohegan Sun, a sovereign nation, could include a limited number of fans in the upper levels of the arena. Fans are not likely to be at Gampel early in the season.
Junior Brendan Adams, who has a foot injury, is not yet practicing with the team. Freshman Andre Jackson and senior Tyler Polley are taking part more fully in the hour-long sessions. The Huskies aren’t doing any five-on-five work yet. … The NCAA’s decision to grant a waiver allowing Tyrese Martin, transfer from Rhode Island, to play without sitting a year at UConn was based in part on URI’s support. In past cases, where waivers were denied, former schools were not as supportive of the application. … Class of 2022 players on UConn’s list of targets include Cam Whitmore, a 6-foot-6 forward from Maryland; Justice Williams, a 6-3 guard from Philly who had a Zoom call with UConn coaches this week, according to Adam Zagoria; Avery Brown, a 6-3 guard from Beacon Falls; and Kyle Cuffe Jr., a 6-1 guard from New Jersey. Bristol’s Donovan Clingan remains a top 2022 priority for UConn — and many other schools.
Dom Amore can be reached at [email protected]
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