Iowa men’s basketball team preparing for season amid COVID-19 concerns

Head coach Fran McCaffery said Sunday that he is certain a regular season and NCAA Tournament will take place.


Nichole Harris

Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery draws up plays during a timeout during a men’s basketball game between Iowa and Penn State on Saturday, Feb. 29 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Hawkeyes defeated the Nittany Lions 77-68.

Robert Read, Sports Editor

The Iowa men’s basketball team paused voluntary workouts last week after two players tested positive for COVID-19 on July 27. During a video conference Sunday, Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said that a total of three players have now tested positive.

“So, we’re supporting them and recognizing that while [deciding how the season will look] is the most important thing, seemingly — really, the most important thing this morning was making sure our three guys are doing OK [and] everyone else is doing OK,” McCaffery said.

The Hawkeyes announced July 28 that workouts would be paused for 14 days.

Protocol established by the Iowa athletics department states that individuals who have tested positive will self-isolate. Those who may have been exposed to someone with the virus will be quarantined.

Iowa forward Joe Wieskamp said that the players that tested positive, who have not been identified, showed mild symptoms.

“It seems like everyone is doing pretty good,” Wieskamp said. “The guys that did have it had some symptoms for a little bit but seems like they’re recovering after that. The rest of the team is doing well, just kind of pushing through this quarantine and finding ways in which we can work out and stay connected through it. It’s obviously unfortunate we have to be quarantined, but we have to be safe.”

Iowa is one of many teams preparing for the upcoming season amid uncertainty due to the pandemic.

When Luka Garza announced Sunday that he was returning for his senior season as a Hawkeye, he said that he didn’t want to make the decision to leave based on the unknown. Garza said he remains confident there will be a season, and that even if there isn’t, he made the right choice in coming back to Iowa.

RELATED: Iowa facing high expectations following Luka Garza’s decision to return

Different scheduling scenarios have been thrown around for the 2020-21 men’s college basketball season. The Big Ten already announced that it will be playing conference-only schedules for fall sports in 2020.

McCaffery said the team is preparing as if the season will start on time in November.

For now.

“I think we all have to agree that that might not be the case,” McCaffery said. “Maybe January 1 is the magic date. Obviously there’s a better chance that we would have a vaccine by then. Will it be conference-only games? That’s a possibility. We’re all talking about a lot of different scenarios. We have an opportunity from Thanksgiving through the start of the second semester to maybe do a bubble-type event. Everything is on the table.”

McCaffery, who is entering his 11th year as Iowa’s head coach, said he remains certain that both a regular season and the NCAA Tournament will take place.

Moving the tournament back was discussed in March before it was ultimately canceled because of the virus. If the start of the 2020-2021 regular season is delayed, pushing back the tournament, McCaffery said, could be more realistic this time since teams have protocols in place and better access to testing.

RELATED: Luka Garza returning for senior season at Iowa with championship goals in mind

The pandemic will continue to raise questions as Iowa’s athletes return to classes at the end of the month. McCaffery and his team are focused on staying healthy and prepared for whenever they can get back on the court.

“It’s not only the adversity that we’re facing as a group, it’s the adversity that we face every day with our families and just going to school,” McCaffery said. “We just roll with it. You deal with the adversity as it comes. Maybe it makes you stronger. It certainly brings you more together. With the information we have, like we said, is there will be a season. When that is, we’ll be ready.”

Facebook Comments