Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Jay Wright says it’s ’50/50′ whether college teams will play full schedules amid pandemic
By ADAM ZAGORIA
Villanova coach Jay Wright was asked this week on a Zoom call with reporters to assess the probability of teams being able to complete a full 25-game schedule amid the pandemic.
His answer wasn’t encouraging for the sport.
“50/50,” he said.
Last month, Villanova had to pause workouts for 14 days after a few members of their program tested positive for COVID-19, as first reported by Joe Juliano of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Testing after the quarantine kept the Wildcats from returning to the court for almost another week before practice officially began.
“Honest to God, I worry about the tests,” Wright told the paper. “I just cringe receiving the test results every day to make sure we’re going to have enough guys to practice. It’s the most important thing I think about. I really don’t worry about anything basketball-wise. I’m always just grateful of every day we get together.
“I’m taking a totally different approach than not worried about being prepared for our first game. I’m more worried that we have 13 guys and everybody’s healthy.”
This week Marquette paused basketball activities for 14 days after 2-of-45 COVID-19 tests came back positive. Student-athletes & Tier 1 staff are quarantining and may return to practice Nov. 4.
“Our student-athletes and staff members have been doing a tremendous job in relation to following university and NCAA COVID-19 protocols and that effort has been reflected in our department’s low positivity rate,” Marquette AD Bill School said. “The actions we are taking surrounding the basketball programs are a proactive measure aimed at stopping the potential for increased infection, with the health and safety of everyone involved our highest priority.”
All of this begs the question about how many more teams will pause or shut down during the upcoming season, set to begin Nov. 25.
“If everyone shuts down for 14 days for a single case there probably won’t be a season at our level,” one mid-major D-1 assistant said.
Teams must play a minimum of 13 games to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.
The NCAA recommends that all Tier-1 individuals, including players, quarantine for 14 days after a positive test:
“When a Tier 1 individual tests positive, it is suggested that all other Tier 1 individuals quarantine as soon as the results are known for a period of 14 days, with contact tracing beginning immediately to determine who was subject to a high-risk exposure.
“Ultimately, the applicable public health officials have jurisdiction to make these determinations. Schools can consider the need for and potential benefit of training on-site personnel in contact tracing through accepted courses such as the Coursera class, as access to additional trained staff can be an invaluable contact tracing resource with respect to institutional risk-management efforts and resources.”
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.