Hens will have to adjust to CAA schedule on the fly

The Blue Hens open their CAA schedule by hosting Charleston on Jan. 2 and 3 in the Carpenter Center. Delaware sports information/Allison Fossner

NEWARK — Martin Ingelsby admits he’s got a lot more questions than answers right now.

And that’s understandable.

That’s because the basketball schedule that Delaware and the rest of the Colonial Athletic Association are about to embark on is fairly unprecedented.

To try to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, CAA teams are going to play back-to-back weekend games, with the same two opponents squaring off in the same arena about 24 hours apart.

The idea is cut down on travel and limit each team’s personnel’s exposure to a smaller group of people.

So while teams do play on back-to-back days in conference tournaments, they don’t face the same squad twice. How it’s all going to play out should be interesting.

The Blue Hens’ first conference twinbill is against Charleston at home on Jan. 2 and 3.

“I talked to a couple people in the Ivy League and some people who have experienced this,” said Ingelsby, UD’s coach. “What to you do from Saturday to Sunday? Do you tweak some things? Do you play more zone?

“Do you have to use your depth? When do you prepare? When do you bring them back? … I think it’s hard to beat a team two times in a row so what’s your adjustment? Obviously we know the challenge that lies ahead.”

Ingelsby mentioned the Ivy League because its basketball teams already play conference games on two straight days. But they play different opponents.

Delaware coach Martin Ingelsby is trying to figure out the best approach for weekend doubleheaders.

Delaware State and the MEAC are following the same format as the CAA. The Hornets start out with two games at Coppin State on Jan. 2 and 3.

And the America East has already started playing league doubleheaders. Wagner, for instance, beat Sacred Heart by 28 points on Monday but then fell to the Pioneers by a point in overtime just 24 hours later.

Delaware sophomore guard Johnny McCoy said he thinks the schedule will be challenging both mentally and physically.

“I think there’s going to be the mental aspect and keeping your body ready to go two days in a row for a college game,” said McCoy. “You get a lot of bumps and bruises in these games so back to back is definitely going to be a challenge.”

It’s inevitable that some inequities will emerge with a schedule like this.

When there’s important conference matchups this season, only one squad will have the homecourt advantage for both games.

And, in a normal season, teams might play each other a month or more apart. That gives players a chance to develop or recover from minor injuries, etc.

This year, though, however you’re playing on a particular weekend is going to count twice.

The Hens’ home weekends are against Charleston, Hofstra, Elon and James Madison. But they have to go on the road to William & Mary, UNC-Wilmington, Northeastern and Towson.

With Drexel being Delaware’s closest CAA foe, the two squads will play home and away games.

Delaware senior guard Ryan Allen thinks the game planning between contests could be interesting.

“It’s a scouting thing,” he said. “Going into that second game, we just played them, so adjustments are going to probably be sharper on both sides. We’ve got to stay focused, stay locked in.

“That’s the main thing. It’s going to be hard sweeping teams no matter who it is. But, to be the best team in the league, we’re going to have to do it. We have complete and 100-percent trust in our coach and we’re going to figure this out.”

Of course, there’s already been a great many COVID-19-related issues in college basketball during the early season. There’s been games canceled and added because of positive virus test results.

So who knows how this will all play out between now and March 6-9 when the CAA Tournament is slated to be played in Washington, D.C.?

“It’s been a challenging year from a disruption standpoint — just the uncertainty of it,” said Ingelsby. “But it beats the alternative of not being able to play. It’s something we’re going to figure out pretty quickly.”