What's ahead for UConn men's basketball: Practice, First Night, Big East Media Day

Photo of David Borges
UConn coach Dan Hurley watches from the sideline during the second against Butler in January.

UConn coach Dan Hurley watches from the sideline during the second against Butler in January.

David Butler II / Associated Press

The UConn football team lost its first game 45-0 and its second game to an FCS team (Holy Cross), sending Randy Edsall into early retirement.

That escalated quickly, as they say.

The Huskies’ nationally-embarrassing start brings up numerous questions, not the least of which: when does college basketball season begin?

Not soon enough, most UConn fans would likely agree. In truth, it’s not that far away. In fact, official practices can begin in three weeks.

College basketball teams are allowed 30 practices over a 42-day span leading up to their regular-season opener. UConn opens its 2021-22 season on Nov. 9 against Central Connecticut State, meaning it can officially begin practices on Sept. 28.

Of course, the Huskies worked out as a team eight hours a week through most of the summer, and will continue team workouts over the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, UConn fans will be happy to know that, after a year’s hiatus, the school is planning on having First Night festivities on Oct. 15. The event was canceled last year due to COVID-19.

As of now, plans for the event are pretty basic: the teams will be introduced, probably have some skills contests, maybe a scrimmage. But there doesn’t figure to be any musical entertainment this year. Unlike in 2019, don’t expect T-Pain (or any other rapper or rocker) to be in the house.

Of course, all current plans are subject to change, depending on whether there is another uptick in COVID cases over the next month or so.

Around the same time (no specific date yet), the Big East is expected to hold its annual Media Day. The league is hopeful to hold the event in Madison Square Garden, as it usually does. However, some coaches and teams embraced the virtual Media Day the league hosted last year, and it’s possible the Big East could go that way again this season.

The average fan probably doesn’t care about that at all, but in-person coverage of Media Day always results in better stories and information than virtual coverage. In fact, it’s still being determined whether game coverage will be held virtually or in-person this season. It could end up being some schools hold postgame press conferences virtually, others live.

Speaking of the Big East, while the Huskies’ unveiled their non-conference schedule last week, their conference has yet to release its 2021-22 slate. Usually the league releases it around Labor Day, but it’s not expected to be released until at least another week or so.

The reason? Arenas that host both NHL teams and Big East squads (Villanova, St. John’s, Seton Hall, Georgetown) have been asked to keep some dates open in case the NHL needs to do some rescheduling due to the upcoming Olympics.

Still, expect the Big East schedule fairly soon. League play is expected begin before Christmas this season.

While the Huskies’ first official game is on Nov. 9, they are likely to play some exhibition games prior to that. Dan Hurley prefers playing closed-door scrimmages against fellow Division I teams, where the competition is better and coaches can do more in-game instruction (play can actually be stopped for instruction, etc.).

However, the staff understands the team hasn’t really played a home game in front of home fans since March, 2020, so it’s likely that at least one scrimmage against a Division II team will be scheduled (don’t expect it to be Southern Connecticut State), to go with a closed-door scrimmage.

Either way, college basketball season isn’t too far away — surely good news for UConn sports fans.

david.borges@hearstmediact.com