The Duke University men’s basketball team was one of the weaker in its tournament. A freshman decided in February to declare participation in the NBA draft and not to play the rest of the season. With a record of 13-11, the prospect of participating in the NCAA tournament of the Green Devils is one of the faintest things in decades.
But until a few hours after Wednesday night’s win over Louisville, Duke had avoided the stark struggle of this college basketball season: a positive coronavirus test of a player or coach. Then one player got a positive result, and by lunchtime on Thursday, Duke’s season is over.
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Mike Krzyzewski, the Duke coach said: “This season has been a challenge for every team across the country and as we have seen many times, this global pandemic is cruel and not over yet.” , Mike Krzyzewski, the Duke’s coach, said in a statement after the team was forced to withdraw from the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament. “As much protection as we have deployed, no one will be immune to this terrible virus.”
The decision of the day, outside of ACC’s medical protocols governing mandatory quarantine and positive tests, made the final decision that Duke, the five-time national champion, would miss the award. NCAA tournament for the first time since 1995. (Tournament 2020 was canceled a year ago on Friday, before the bracket was set and when Duke 25-6, because of the virus.)
But while this Duke team is not as terrifying as many of its predecessors, the forced exit from the basketball league after the season is a warning throughout the sport ahead of time. Most importantly, the next few weeks could quickly get worse.
The NCAA plans to welcome 68 teams to Indianapolis for the men’s tournament that will begin next week and 64 teams to San Antonio for the women’s competition, scheduled to begin March 21. In many matches, and although players, coaches, and others in certain roles will be tested for viruses on a daily basis, the NCAA has not built up a severely restricted environment such as the environment. schools that the NBA and other professional leagues used in the last season.
The team’s health has been so stable that the group, which will be released for the men’s league on Sunday night, won’t be frozen until 6pm Eastern time on Tuesday. Until then, alternate teams will be ready to fly to Indiana if one of the teams faces its own coronavirus crisis.
And as Duke saw on Wednesdays and into Thursday, those crises can infiltrate the best-protected, well-funded, and best-supervised schemes.
“Every coach in America is worried about how fragile what we’re doing,” said Florida coach Leonard Hamilton, who is scheduled to play for the Green Devils on Thursday and automatically advanced into the ACC tournament after Duke retreated. “You really have to be in your own little teammate bubble, where you go, where you eat, where you sleep, who your friends are, who you come into contact with, the sacrifices you have to make.”
He added, “You may be the most disciplined person in the world, but by chance you come across something you don’t even know where it came from. This is what we all have to face.
According to ACC protocols, basketball is classified as a high-risk sport and players must undergo regular testing. But one of the most stinging issues with roster management in any sport in the past year has been contact tracking, which can wipe out most or all of a team in no time. Indeed, Duke’s sporting director, Kevin White, suggested on Thursday that all Duke players have been ordered quarantined. In December, the Duke women’s team ended the season early, citing pandemic safety concerns.
NCAA officials hope that the system they have set up in Indiana and Texas will allow tournaments, which are so important to the association’s finances, to take place without any boom. But they also have a policy when a team has to leave the knockout tournaments: when a school doesn’t have at least five healthy, qualified players.
Duke’s experience, which includes requiring the players to stay in quarantine for at least seven days, once again showed how quickly the squad can split. But Thursday also brings a reminder that one team’s troubles don’t necessarily affect the other team’s prospects of continuing to play.
Louisville, which Duke defeated, 70-56, on Wednesday night, was quick to say on Thursday that they don’t believe any of their players will be affected by contact tracking, one hit The prices are primarily driven by digital tracking devices that players use in the game and will also wear during team activities at national tournaments.
“Our team is tested daily and on a schedule to have the consecutive days needed for negative tests to be able to compete,” Louisville said.
But for any of the optimism that surrounds the sport as Louisville-style opportunities to take the lead anyway, hardly anyone thinks March and early April will be easy. .
As Mitch Barnhart, Kentucky’s sporting director and chairman of the NCAA tournament selection committee, said this week, before Duke withdrew, “We’ve come this far, so now they’re Let’s hope we’ll finish three weeks from Monday. “
Adam Zagoria Contribution reports.