After the postponement of fall sports, the University of New Hampshire and conferences across the nation are preparing for their first taste of college sports this academic year. Men’s and women’s basketball will be among the first teams to return to action at UNH as America East has released a tentative schedule which is set to start at the beginning of next month.
A Monday morning press release from America East highlighted the details of the schedule which will only feature teams within the conference. The conference prioritized the health and safety of players, coaches and all other parties involved when constructing the schedule.
In order to execute these measures, the schedule includes weekend series similar to how college hockey teams have their games formatted in years past. A team will play host on back-to-back days over the same weekend in order to reduce travel from both teams involved.
America East Commissioner, Amy Huchthausen noted in the press release that the conference is confident in the measures put in place to have a successful 2020-21 season.
“We acknowledge this will be a unique season with many variables both within and outside of our control but believe this format along with our health and safety protocols will best position each institution and the conference for basketball competition,” explained Huchthausen. “By prioritizing conference play, reducing travel and preserving flexibility, this schedule will give us the best opportunity to successfully navigate this season in the safest way possible.”
Both the UNH men’s and women’s teams will feature near identical schedules with one being on the road at all times. They will give a warm welcome to the conference’s newest member, New Jersey Institute of Technology, in the opening weekend, followed by Hartford, Maine, UMBC, Stony Brook, UAlbany, Binghamton, Vermont and UMass Lowell.
The preseason polls and all-conference teams are expected to be announced later in the week.
A season ago the men’s team improved by 10 wins when they finished 15-15 on the season. The team was in position to host a home playoff game but a loss in the regular season finale at UMass Lowell sent them to UMBC for the first round of the playoffs where they got bounced by the retrievers.
The team lost a pair of seniors but will retain most of their core heading into 2020. They will be led by senior point guard Sean Sutherlin who led the conference in rebounding in 2019, and junior forward Nick Guadarrama.
The women’s team finished 2019 with a 10-19 record but was still able to sneak into the conference tournament. They lost at the hands of Binghamton by a final of 42-51, ending their season.
The team lost a handful of seniors a year ago but will look to find their identity and improve upon their 10 wins behind the play of senior guard Amanda Torres.
Both teams are set to kick off on Dec. 12 as the men’s team will make the trip to New Jersey and the women will welcome the conference’s newest member.