The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference will open conference play on perhaps the earliest date in its history.
For a conference that is used to playing games on the first weekend in December, leading off the country in conference games is no new position for the MAAC and it will continue this season to an extreme.
On Thursday November 20, six days into the 2014-15 season, Niagara will travel to St. Peter’s to open MAAC play.
“This will probably be the earliest we’ve had,” MAAC associate commissioner Ken Taylor said. Taylor is in charge of creating the men’s basketball schedule.
The November 20 conference game will likely be the earliest conference game in all of college basketball this season.
The earlier game in November will allow the traditional December weekend of conference play, between December 4 and 7, to be a balanced schedule.
“We’ve had November games before, it’s not unheard of,” Taylor said. “When we get to the December schedule, there’s no game early in the week. They are all pushed towards the weekend, which is like the way we used to do it.”
For St. Peter’s it will allow them to have their home opener at the Yanitelli Center be their MAAC opener. Peacocks head coach John Dunne said that he had heard that Niagara head coach Chris Casey was looking to move a game in June.
The Peacocks were originally slated to open with four games on the road. St. Peter’s plays at Brown on November 14 and ends a brief road trip with a game against Hartford on the 16th. The next weekend they were already slated to play in the Barclays Center Classic, with road games at La Salle and Rutgers. When the Purple Eagles needed to change the date of a conference game, Dunne saw an opportunity to sandwich a home game within four road games.
“Normally you don’t really want to play league games so early,” Dunne said. “You want to get the kinks out and try to build up towards league play with your non-conference schedule, but again for me, I think the fact that we could get the home game superseded everything else.”
The change was subject to approval from athletic directors and, after clearing that hurdle, was changed in the league schedule.
“That opened up a date for me,” Dunne said, who in June was looking for another non-conference game. “We plugged in Boston University, so it ended up working out for us as well.”
St. Peter’s will travel to Boston University on December 6 after hosting Canisius to start the league’s traditional ‘December weekend’ on December 3, which will be their only MAAC game until full-time league play begins.
“Coaches really do work together,” Taylor said. “They compete against each other on the court, but off the court I’d say our group is pretty good to work with.”
The Purple Eagles open the season at Pittsburgh on November 14.
Ryan Restivo wrote the America East conference preview for the 2014-15 Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook. He covers the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, the America East conference and Hofstra for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanarestivo or contact Ryan at rrestivo[at]nycbuckets.com.