Seton Hall basketball team looking forward to the return following COVID-19 pause
Big East Basketball has returned after it was shut down at the height of the pandemic. The conference held a virtual Media Day on Monday as coaches and players look forward to tip-off.
“I’m just excited for the players. I can’t tell you what it was like being on the bust after the Big East tournament got canceled and the NCAA tournament got canceled and dealing with 13 kids that put their heart and soul into this game that they love,” says Seton Hall head basketball coach Kevin Willard.
But this season will look different than years past. Scheduling is proving to be difficult because a lot of non-conference games and tournaments in November and December have been canceled. The Big East only released a slate of conference matchups through December.
“I wish the NCAA would come out and say, ‘Play 27 games any way you can get them.’ Even if I had to play four extra conference games at some point, I think that might have to be a possibility because right now, I wouldn’t use the word ‘disaster’ because that would be too light of a term,” Willard says.
Coronavirus testing is another challenge. The NCAA requires three tests per week and a two-week shutdown if there someone tests positive for the virus. This could be extended with subsequent positive tests. Willard says that this scenario would be detrimental to the season.
“As testing gets a little bit better and as policies get a little bit better, we can use our backlog of testing to help maybe move forward and not make the disruption 14 days. Maybe seven days and I think that would help the season dramatically,” Willard says.
The Big East is allowing the schools to make the decision if fans will be allowed to watch the games in person. No fans will be in attendance at Seton Hall during the December games at the Prudential Center. The players say that they are just happy to return to the game.
“A lot of things would be out of our control, but as basketball players, we’ll come in and do our best to be prepared day in and day out and when the games tip-off, I’m sure we’ll be ready,” says guard Bryce Aiken.
Seton Hall tips off in Newark on Friday, Dec. 11 against DePaul.