Only weeks old, college basketball season already a COVID-impacted grind

Sports

ST. LOUIS, Mo- The college basketball season is barely a month old, but thanks to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it feels for all like it’s been longer than that.

On Wednesday, Saint Louis University announced it was pausing Men’s Basketball activities for two weeks after positive cases were discovered from tests done Monday. Nearly every Division I basketball program has had games canceled or rescheduled due to COVID-19. Games have been scheduled on the fly, sometimes with just hours of notice.

The Christmas break showed there’s no right or wrong way to try and escape COVID challenges.

“I told them I apologize, I’m sorry and that I had been struggling with it emotionally, not being able to let them go home. It was tough,” SLU Head Coach Travis Ford told reporters Tuesday, one day before the program announced a pause due to positive tests.

At Missouri, players were able to get home to be with families for the holiday, something guard Dru Smith said was “extremely valuable” given what’s unfolded this year. As for the grind of a season now a little more than a month old, Smith said “it’s definitely different. You don’t know what’s coming next, but I think we’ve done a good job of handling it.”

“These are not easy times….I’m proud of the guys, Missouri Head Coach Cuonzo Martin said. “They don’t complain, they don’t make a lot of excuses, they stay the course. They know life is hard.”

As SLU handles its current pause, Athletic Director Chris May said he hopes the adversity will ignite a fire under a program that had high expectations coming into the season.

“This two weeks is not going to define this basketball team,” May said.

Duquesne, the Billikens’ intended opponent Wednesday night, has only played two games this season, the last one being Dec 2. The Dukes’ last five games were either canceled or postponed due to coronavirus-related issues.

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