Rutgers, Seton Hall poised to overcome pandemic challenges as college basketball season begins
College basketball officially begins this week with some changes because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rutgers and Seton Hall say that they are ready for the new season, despite the challenges that they may face.
“We’re going to have to navigate all kinds of obstacles with the season, with travel and contact tracing. All the things you deal with with this virus,” says Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell.
Rutgers is ranked No. 24. The new season is a chance to keep building on the success of last year’s 20-win season. But even with a core group of starters returning this year, the Big 10 schedule will be tough.
“You’re playing iron every night. Seven teams are ranked in the top 25 and possible nine of 10 that are receiving votes, so challenges, challenges, coronavirus and this league,” Pikiell says.
The same goes for the Big East. With big-name coaches and the return of UConn to the league, Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard says that the conference is wide open.
“I think the thing that’s different about the Big East is that we get freshmen that become seniors. They come through this conference, they play in this conference for four years, so I think, just like it has been the last five or six years, as it’s always been, it will be as competitive as it always is,” Willard says.
Seton Hall has already had to overcome obstacles such as scheduling. The program also had to shut down for two weeks after positive COVID-19 tests among the team. They are looking to rebuild after the loss of stars Myles Powell and Romaro Gill.
“We have some new guys that we have to plug in there. We have a level of consistency. We’ve built in this program where guys have to be the next man up and I think guys are really excited about being the next man up,” Willard says.
Rutgers tips off Wednesday night in Piscataway against Sacred Heart. Seton Hall debuts Friday afternoon at Louisville.