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UAlbany, Siena basketball cautious about summer competition idea

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Saints, Danes are wary

NCAA initiative would allow Div. I teams summer play


By Mark Singelais

Hans Pennink/Special to the Times Union

UAlbany’s Colleen Mullen said things like injuries and expenses have to be considered when talking about summer play.

Jim Franco/Times Union

UAlbany men’s coach Dwayne Killings said players should have the final say on whether teams will play games and scrimmages during the summer.

The NCAA is looking into making the summer more eventful in college basketball.

Siena and the University at Albany aren’t sold on the idea.

The Division I men’s and women’s basketball oversight committees are discussing an initiative that would allow limited competition in the summer. Each school could play a Division I opponent in up to two exhibition contests, two scrimmages or one tournament-style event that doesn’t exceed two contests.

Those exhibitions and scrimmages could be open to the public.

After getting feedback from membership, the NCAA announced last week the committees will continue reviewing the concept and don’t expect to propose legislation during the 2023-24 governance cycle.

“I am not for it,” Siena men’s basketball coach Carmen Maciariello texted. “I feel we ask our student-athletes to do a lot during the year. They need to do less in the summer, not more.”

Maciariello already has three players, Giovanni Emejuru (Italy), Michael Evbagharu (Canada), and Killian Gribben (Ireland), playing in international competition this summer.

College teams are allowed up to eight weeks of summer workouts during which players develop their individual skills and build chemistry with their teammates in preparation for the regular season. The NCAA said it is considering adding summer games “since an emphasis on summer competition currently exists at every level of the game.”

UAlbany men’s head coach Dwayne Killings and women’s head coach Colleen Mullen were more receptive than Maciariello to playing opponents during the summer. But both also expressed caution.

“You have a game in the summer against a program like Colgate, it’s a couple of hours away, that’s played in the NCAA Tournament, it could be really fun to have the game,” Killings said. “I think you’ve got to look at a lot of different dynamics. Obviously, for us, there’s budget restrictions we’ve got to think about. But ultimately, the question is, how do the kids feel? Sometimes we forget to ask the student-athletes. We just come up with these ideas and, boom, they’re doing it. But how do they feel about playing in the summer? If our guys say they want to play, let’s play.”

Asked if he was interested in summer contests, UAlbany sophomore forward Jonathan Beagle responded, “I think just working on ourselves and getting better every day.’ ”

“Since we have so many newcomers I think that’d be our main focus,” point guard Sebastian Thomas added. “If we find a game, I’ll play. I would like to see where we’re at, but it is what it is. Doesn’t matter to me.”

The NCAA said a survey of all 32 Division I conferences showed 69 percent of men’s players and 63 percent of women’s players strongly or somewhat supported summer competition. Men’s basketball coaches are evenly split at 47 percent each, while 59 percent of women’s coaches weren’t supportive of the idea.

UAlbany women’s coach Colleen Mullen pointed out she holds four weeks of summer workouts for her players, while the NCAA proposal would only allow games or scrimmages in weeks five through eight.

“There’s pros and cons to it,” Mullen said. “I think it’s exciting for the players in terms of, if you do a summer session, you get to play against somebody else. But there’s a lot of implications in terms of injury, spending more money on summer school. We have four weeks of summer sessions and we do that on purpose because I think the season is very long and it’s really important players have downtime with their families and recharge their batters and have some sort of balance in their life.”

UAlbany women’s teammates Meghan Huerter and Lilly Phillips said they were receptive to playing other teams in the summer, but were more concerned about themselves and their teammates.

“I think the summer is very team-focused,” said Phillips, from Cambridge. “It’d be very fun (to play games) for sure, but I think it’s definitely the most important to build the team up with relationships and chemistry, for sure.”

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