In a move that will allow the Patriot League to gain more national attention, the Patriot League’s Council of Presidents, headed by AU President Dr. Benjamin Ladner, decided to change the PL’s Friday-Sunday basketball schedule to a Wednesday-Saturday one effective this coming winter. The council cited the concern that Sunday be used as an academic-preparation day as the reason for their decision. Another factor that was considered was the ability to accommodate more television opportunities as national outlets look to televise the league’s increasingly competitive basketball games.
Although upon first glance the move seems questionable, the benefits that will arise are considerable, including the fact that players will receive an extra day off. The league has said they will make a point of scheduling with academic interests in mind and both men’s and women’s teams will be at the same site, allowing universities to play double headers again on the weekend. This will not only help spark interest in the games, but will allow for the league to save money now that the arenas will be run for half as many home games.
Another aspect the league will implement is “rivalry weekends” on the third and seventh Saturdays. This will allow the league’s newest rivalries, as well as the well known Army-Navy and Lehigh-Lafayette ones, to play out on a bigger stage. The second Saturday will fall on the second to last weekend of play. From the looks of the current schedule, AU will be paired up with Holy Cross.
From the fan’s perspective the schedule switch will change who attends games, as students are much more likely to go to a Wednesday night game than a Friday night one. The Saturday affairs will have better attendance than a Sunday afternoon game, when most college students are still asleep. This in turn will help the league, as attendance substantially raises the league’s attractiveness to TV outlets.
The coaches will likely benefit from the change the most. This will allow coaches to change the team’s style of play without worry of tiring. It may mean more pressure for teams that excel at defense and it will probably mean less “off games” for the league’s best shooters who used to tire with the league’s tough travel schedule. Coaches will have an extra day to scout and prepare their teams for the next opponent. It would not be surprising to see them play their best players more often because they know they would have an extra day to rest them.
Lastly, the players both benefit and lose from this arrangement. One of the huge disadvantages for the league is certainly the missed class that the players will incur. Although the likelihood of it bothering any players is minimal as they are just like any other college student. On top of that the way AU’s schedule is set up now they will only miss Wednesday classes on two trips. The upside is enormous. The players will have Sunday as a study day, and if you ask any player they can tell you about how frustrating Monday morning classes are after getting back at 1 or 2 am in the morning from a long weekend trip. If any players are suffering from injuries, the extra recovery day will be essential. Most have come to college to play basketball, and the chance for more national attention to hit the PL is certainly there. TV coverage of games will likely double within the course of a few years, and the quality of prospects the league can recruit will rise accordingly.
Thus, a brief review proves the scheduling move will benefit the league greatly. The quality of PL basketball will continue to rise, and the fan attention will grow, too.