Berkshire County basketball fans who want to see Lenox’s Bailey Patella and Pittsfield’s Bryce Daley play for their respective college teams will have chances to do so without making a long trek. Those chances, however, will be somewhat limited.
America East, the conference that Patella’s University of Vermont and Daley’s University of Massachusetts-Lowell teams play in, announced their in-conference schedule on Monday. This year, the 10 America East members will not be playing home-and-home with their rivals.
The conference announced last month that, due to the ongoing restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic, the schedule will be different for 2020-21. Instead of the traditional home-and-home schedules, the basketball schedule would take on a more “baseball-like” scenario, with teams playing rivals twice either at home or on the road.
“We’d go somewhere and play two games, and it would be done. They wouldn’t come to our place. It’s all done to minimize travel, to minimize risk,” UMass-Lowell coach Pat Duquette said in an Eagle article last week about the planned schedule. “Place health and safety first and foremost, and trying to pull this thing off.”
Duquette’s River Hawks will be in the area the weekend of Jan. 30-31, when they play the Great Danes of UAlbany. Game times have not been set yet, but it is presumed that these would be day games.
“We feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to play this season as these are challenging times for so many,” UAlbany coach Will Brown said in a release. “We appreciate the America East Conference for making health and safety the top priority for all involved. The weekend games on back-to-back days at one site against the same team is unique and exciting.”
The River Hawks are 4-4 against Brown’s Great Danes over the past four years, but Duquette’s team has won three of the last four contests, including a sweep in the 2018-19 season.
It’s the only time that UMass-Lowell will be within an easy drive of Berkshire County, at least for conference play. Conference foe Hartford will travel to Lowell in January.
“For obvious reasons, we are more excited about our schedule this year than ever before,” said Duquette. “As players and coaches, we are more grateful than ever for the opportunity to play the game we all love so much. We know we will need to continue to be patient, flexible and careful, as we navigate through challenging and uncharted times. Nonetheless, we feel fortunate to be on campus, working out every day, representing UMass Lowell, and are extremely optimistic and excited about this year.”
Patella’s Catamounts, meanwhile, will travel to UML the opening weekend of conference play, Dec. 19-20. The Catamounts have yet to lose to the River Hawks in conference play.
The closest Patella and Vermont get to Berkshire County, in conference play, will be Jan. 23-24, when they travel to Hartford for two games. UAlbany will play its two games in Patrick Gym up in Burlington on Jan. 2-3.
Vermont will, however, be playing in “Bubbleville” at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut. UVM will play Buffalo on Nov. 30, St. Bonaventure on Dec. 1, and Rick Pitino’s Iona Gaels on Dec. 2.
UMass-Lowell is not scheduled to play in any of the “Bubbleville” games, and its non-conference schedule has not yet been released.