Practice a luxury for Bears

SUNY Potsdam

POTSDAM — SUNY Potsdam’s men’s and women’s basketball teams will play their first games on Feb. 1, 2021 while the men’s hockey team will hold its first game Feb. 5, according to schedules released by the State University of New York Athletic Conference on Tuesday.

The basketball teams will open with games at SUNY Oneonta while men’s hockey starts the season with a game at SUNY Oswego. The women’s hockey team is part of the Northeast Women’s Hockey League, which has not announced schedules yet. SUNY Canton’s women’s hockey team is also a member of the NEWHL.

The home opener for each basketball team is Feb. 8, against SUNY New Paltz. The men’s hockey team opens at home on Feb. 12, against SUNY Oswego.

The SUNYAC schedule was announced following approval by the conference’s athletic directors during their weekly conference meeting Monday. The schedules for both basketball and ice hockey will consist of eight divisional games and a four-team crossover playoff format that features the top two teams in each division.

SUNY Potsdam basketball teams will play eight regular-season games and the men’s hockey team also will play eight regular-season games. It is possible the SUNY Potsdam teams could still play nonconference games against area schools, but that decision has not been made yet.

“The schedules are designed to provide a meaningful student-athlete experience while at the same time prioritizing the health and safety of the student-athletes and staff,” Tom DiCamillo, commissioner of the SUNYAC, said in a statement. “We know full well that the pandemic environment is ever-changing; however, it is important to establish our intent to begin conference play in February which will allow our member-institutions to appropriately prepare for intercollegiate athletic competition.”

DiCamillo stressed that the SUNYAC will follow recommendations, guidelines and direction from local, regional, state and SUNY authorities, as well as from its national organization the NCAA.

“We will not operate in a vacuum,” DiCamillo said, “But the strength of the SUNYAC is its athletic leadership and knowledge that will be used to craft the best and safest experience possible for our student-athletes.”

In addition to health and safety, the divisional schedule reduces costs by slashing travel and the need for most hotel accommodations. And, it preserves the NCAA eligibility for student-athletes by playing less than 50 percent of the allowable contests.

Men’s and women’s basketball will split into an East-West divisional alignment, playing a double round-robin schedule starting Feb. 1. SUNY Cortland, SUNY New Paltz, SUNY Oneonta, SUNY Plattsburgh and SUNY Potsdam will comprise the Eastern Division, while Brockport, Buffalo State, SUNY Fredonia, SUNY Geneseo and SUNY Oswego will play in the Western Division.

Regular-season women’s and men’s doubleheaders are scheduled on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays with the conference semifinals slated for Thursday, Feb. 25, and the championship set for Sunday, Feb. 28.

Men’s ice hockey will have a similar format but with a slightly modified divisional alignment since nine institutions sponsor the sport. Games mostly will be contested on Tuesdays and Fridays with the SUNYAC semifinals set for March 4, and the championship scheduled for March 7.

The Western Division will consist of Brockport, Buffalo State, SUNY Cortland, SUNY Fredonia and SUNY Geneseo playing an eight-game, double round-robin schedule starting Sunday, Jan. 31.

The Eastern Division will feature just four teams — Morrisville, SUNY Oswego, SUNY Plattsburgh and SUNY Potsdam – that will play a triple round-robin schedule minus one contest beginning Feb. 5.

Each team playing the other teams three times produces a nine-game schedule, one more game than the Western Division, therefore a decision was made based upon geographical distance to balance the schedule by eliminating one long trip – SUNY Oswego to SUNY Plattsburgh. As a result, SUNY Potsdam and Morrisville will play each other just two times as well.

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