Playing Three Games in Six Days, Men’s Basketball Historically Thrives
The men’s basketball team is in Hempstead, N.Y. today to take on the Hofstra Pride in a game between two of the league’s three remaining unbeaten teams. For both teams it will be the second game in three days as this is the week the CAA has Monday-Wednesday-Saturday contests for all its teams. Sounds demanding but thanks to New Year’s Day being on Saturday, it’s actually a break from past seasons. In typical years, teams would play four games in eight days. This year, it’s down to just three contests in six days.
The current schedule became so demanding beginning with the 2005-06 season when Georgia State and Northeastern joined the league. The only time since then that the league hasn’t had three games in six days was 2007-08 when the conference tournament fell on the second weekend in March. Over the other four seasons, the Patriots have managed to put together an 11-1 record in those first-week-of-January games. But then Mason has never had to play more than one of those games on the road. Until this year.
The first season of the current scheduling format, the Patriots played at Northeastern and home against VCU and Delaware, sweeping the three. In 2006-07, Mason hosted UNCW, went to Towson and hosted James Madison, again with three wins. In 2008-09, Mason hosted Georgia State, went to Towson then hosted Old Dominion. Last year, the Patriots finally lost a contest in that stretch as they won at home against Hofstra, lost at Northeastern then came home to beat UNCW.
Two Patriots who are no stranger to the early-season stretch are senior Isaiah Tate and junior Mike Morrison. GoMason Blog asked the two about playing those three games in six days.
“It’s definitely going to be tough, especially getting our wind back and with the teams we’re playing,” Tate said. “They are teams that play really, really hard in this league. At the same time, we’re excited and pumped, we’re all in college, we’re young, so we should be able to put together enough energy for these games.”
“You have less time to prepare for each team and on top of that, it’s physically taxing,” Morrison said. “It’s more that you need to focus more. In the past, we haven’t had too many problems with that. I don’t think (the three games in six days) makes that much of a difference as long as you focus on getting your matchups.”
The two road games is a new wrinkle but as Tate pointed out, it’s just as much about the three-game road trip which begins today as the three games in six days. The Patriots go to Old Dominion after facing Hofstra, then they travel to Northeastern.
“These next three games might be the toughest since I’ve been in college,” Tate said. “I haven’t won at ODU since I’ve been here, I haven’t won at Northeastern since I’ve been here, and Hofstra… Charles Jenkins is always going to get his shots up and he always has good games. So these three games are definitely big. We have to go into places where teams play really at home.”
The Patriots have won on their past two trips to Hempstead, including a double-overtime thriller in 2008. Mason’s lone CAA win over the Huskies came in their first season in the league, topping Northeastern 71-68. Mason’s last victory at Old Dominion was Feb. 28, 2004.