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Catching up with John Becker - Part Two

Hoopcats looking for games...and looking forward to welcoming fans back
Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 11:00 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The UVM men’s basketball team will begin conference play on January 2nd as they host Albany at Patrick Gym. If you’re thinking to yourself, ‘Hey, I thought the season starts in November,’ you’re correct. It is exceedingly rare for a college hoops program to get this late in the year without announcing a nonconference slate, and that virtually always comes before the America East schedule is released. But UVM head coach John Becker says the Cats are having a lot of issues filling out their non-league schedule this year.

“We still need a couple games,” Becker said. “We’re trying to find people to play, at this point, we’ll play anybody. It’s a tough place to play up here with our fan support and how successful we’ve been. The high major schools aren’t offering the guarantees they used to. I wish we could just play all the New England schools and be done with it but hopefully get this thing done soon.”

One of the major stories nationally this offseason was Name, Image, and Likeness: college athletes are essentially now allowed to receive payment for endorsements or services which previously would have jeopardized their NCAA eligibility. Figuring out exactly how that will work is another concern for Becker and his team, but he says its a good thing.

“I think there’s a lot of gray area with the rule,” Becker said. “I think it’s just state to state and I think it’s gonna be hard to manage, but I think it’s great players have an opportunity to make some money. And hopefully people in the community understand they can basically hire our players for endorsements.”

Another good thing? The expected return of fans to Patrick Gym this year. The Cats dropped three home games a year ago, matching the highest total since 2014-15 despite only playing nine games in Burlington. Becker is hopeful getting the crowds back should help there.

“It’s different and it’s not nearly as good or nearly as fun without fans,” Becker said. “And so I hope that everything stays the course here and we get our fans back. I know people are excited in town and we are more excited to get them back.”

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