Schedule guessing game is talk of Atlantic 10

(Photo by Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

By CHUCKIE MAGGIO

The 2020 Rhode Island Rams are acquiring a taste of how St. Bonaventure has lived for over a decade now.

“No one wants to play us,” Cox told CBS Sports college basketball reporter Jon Rothstein on Friday. “It’s real simple.”

The Bonnies can perennially relate. A “power conference” team hasn’t visited the Reilly Center since Mississippi State traveled 15 hours from Starkville two days before Thanksgiving in 2008. The appealing games SBU finds are either part of holiday tournaments or road outings without a return trip.

Now Rhody, an Atlantic 10 title contender that returns First Team Atlantic 10 guard Fatts Russell, is struggling to find quality games for its NCAA Tournament resume. The annual URI-Providence rivalry game was canceled, despite Cox’s discontent, after the schools could not agree on a suitable date.

Cox is calling on the conference to assist the Rams and the league’s other contenders.

“We need more help from the Atlantic 10 when it comes to scheduling,” Cox told Rothstein. “We need them to help more. It’s already very difficult because of the pandemic, but now we’re at a point where no one wants to play us and we’re starting to feel undervalued.”

The season is scheduled to start in 36 days. The A-10 has yet to decide if it will schedule conference games before the tentative Dec. 30 start of league play, and a source said Monday that schools have not received a timetable. Until that decision is made, contracts for most dates remain unsigned.

St. Bonaventure coach Mark Schmidt briefly discussed the topic on a Zoom press conference on Thursday, acknowledging he had little information.

“You talk to coaches in the Atlantic 10 and a number of them say that, ‘Hey, we don’t have a game yet,'” Schmidt said. “It’s the same thing with us; nothing is set in stone. We think that we’re gonna start Nov. 25 in one of these bubbles, but you don’t know. We haven’t really gotten any direction or any final say from the Atlantic 10… There’s so many things going on.”

The Bonnies are expecting to open the 2020-21 season in a multi-team event at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut, with Stephen F. Austin and Towson also agreeing to participate. A fourth team is expected to join, but the event has yet to be officially announced.

“You just never know. No one’s really committed to them,” Schmidt remarked. “You hear on the news, ‘We’re going here. We’re going there,’ but there hasn’t been any contracts signed. It’s just a fluid situation, and we’re working on it every day.

“I think when the Atlantic 10 comes out and tells us how our conference season is gonna go… I’m not sure what we’re gonna do, if we’re gonna have travel partners, there’s a lot of things that haven’t been set yet. Like I said, it’s a fluid situation. Right now, if you ask me who we’re gonna play, when we’re gonna play, I really don’t have an answer. And there’s a lot of programs in the same situation.”

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