On February 4, the College of North Florida basketball staff was pulling into a Lynchburg, Va. hotel parking good deal following a 10-hour chartered bus ride when the unanticipated information strike the Ospreys like a sledgehammer.
Fred Burnett, UNF’s associate athletic director for Sports Functionality, experienced just gained the information a person of the gamers had examined constructive for COVID-19. So the Ospreys’ two scheduled games with Liberty about the following two days would have to be postponed, their next ASUN series cancellation of the period.
Just like that, all travel ideas for the coaching staff and players had been altered. The Ospreys all experienced to isolate that night time in a Virginia lodge, then ride a different 10 several hours back again to campus the up coming morning. It was not until finally 4 days afterwards that mentor Matthew Driscoll discovered that instead of playing at home last week in opposition to Bellarmine, the ASUN Conference built UNF travel back to Lynchburg to enjoy Liberty. The Flames conveniently swept the Ospreys and dropped them to 5-5 in league participate in, eliminating them from championship rivalry.
“I felt heading into the first Liberty vacation, we had terrific electricity and momentum,” reported Driscoll. “It just felt various going back there again the following week, but that was the hand we have been dealt.”
It was but yet another illustration of how COVID-19 has turned this faculty basketball season upside down, forcing teams all more than the state to offer with numerous agenda interruptions and the 7 days-to-week uncertainty of pondering if their subsequent video game will even be played.
“The psychological element of a single player remaining the cause we had to flip all over and go property, that’s the portion which is worse than something,” explained Driscoll. “It was definitely tricky on that player, and he did almost nothing wrong. He experienced no strategy how he got [COVID].”
It is grow to be a weekly craze nationwide. Games are routinely acquiring canceled and in several instances, hardly ever created up, with some Division I applications opting out and electing to resume participate in next season. But for individuals nevertheless seeking to enjoy as several video games as probable, COVID-19 has grow to be the hardest opponent.
Florida is scheduled to participate in at Arkansas on Tuesday, which would be the Gators’ initially sport in 13 times after highway contests towards LSU (February 6) and Tennessee (February 10) have been scratched owing to UF’s coronavirus call tracing problems. Then COVID-stricken Texas A&M was forced to terminate its excursion to Gainesville for a Saturday activity.
“It’s a outrageous yr of university basketball,” stated UF coach Mike White. “It seems like this is the 3rd, fourth or fifth time exactly where we haven’t performed in a very little little bit. . . . We have experienced so a great deal adversity. I like to feel, optimistically, it is aided our fellas increase as youthful men, mastering how to offer with stuff they simply cannot command.
“Not a lot adjustments when you’re [put] on pause, other than you could possibly have seven men at follow as an alternative of 14.”
In addition to COVID-similar pauses, the Gators also dealt with shedding star player Keyontae Johnson to an on-courtroom collapse during the Florida Point out activity in December, which resulted in 4 game cancellations and opening SEC engage in soon after not actively playing for 18 times. Florida (10-5 total, 6-4 in SEC) is up to 10 games dropped this year, amongst the optimum in the nation.
Right before struggling with the ACC-major Virginia Cavaliers Monday night time at residence, No. 16-rated Florida Condition (11-3, 7-2) already had six league game titles postponed due to COVID. The Seminoles have played fewer online games than any Electric power 5 or rated group in the nation other than South Carolina (5-9 all round). FSU has been forced to pause its basketball actions 2 times this year, and in each situations, it transpired mainly because of a bogus beneficial COVID-19 test.
With meeting tournaments just two or three months away, the panic ranges have ratcheted up. Coaches and players are living each day with the gnawing believed that somebody’s period may well not conclude due to a match decline, but the coronavirus using them out.
“Oh, no question, that’s absolutely going to occur,” claimed Driscoll.
“Yeah, I believe which is usually a likelihood,” White included. “Hopefully, not us.”
Some groups have been luckier with COVID than some others. When Jacksonville College did lose its top rated two gamers, Kevion Nolan and Dontarius James for its to start with ASUN series against last-area Kennesaw Condition, they’ve experienced no meeting routine variations except having a two-sport established with UNF moved up a person week back again in January. Nonetheless, Nolan has been sidelined for two extended durations this time with a knee injury, and his standing for a Friday-Saturday matchup with Stetson remains unsure.
“We’ve had a chance to participate in with our whole staff for only four game titles this year,” explained JU coach Tony Jasick. “But from a COVID standpoint, obtained to give large credit rating to our gamers and professional medical employees. This would be easy if somebody analyzed positive and you knew how they obtained it, but that is not what we’re dealing with. We’re lucky we never had to have a entire quarantine scenario.”
A look at the ACC, ASUN and SEC standings reveals the week-to-week volatility. Nine ACC teams have played 12-additionally league video games, a few 10 or fewer. The ASUN has 5 groups at 12-in addition, with Florida Gulf Coast continue to only 4-4 in league participate in and in quarantine for this future weekend thanks to COVID protection protocols. Florida is among the 4 teams with 10 or fewer conference online games performed, while 9 SEC teams are at 12-furthermore. Thanks to the uneven schedules, leagues are staying forced to decide match seeding by successful percentage.
Who knows what calamity may well await in the NCAA tournament, exactly where everyone hopes any COVID-associated hazard will be minimized by keeping March Madness solely in the Indianapolis area.
In the meantime, UNF expects to be taking part in at residence Friday and Saturday against initial-put Bellarmine, while Driscoll is well prepared to maybe be notified Tuesday that the Ospreys may possibly have to engage in at Stetson instead of the Hatters traveling to JU.
Everybody’s schedule is in flux, pending on which hoops plan COVID-19 could strike future and how leagues have to adjust.
“I never know if any individual between the age of 18 and 60 can manage anything that they just can’t see,” claimed Driscoll. “It’s like likely outdoors and telling the wind not to hit me. You have no clue exactly where this issue is.”
Gonzaga, Baylor and Michigan are powerful favorites to access the Ultimate 4, but there is minor doubt about their hardest obstacle to get to Indianapolis. COVID-19 waits as a possible ambush for all people.
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