COVID pause interrupts promising season for SDSU men's basketball team
Speaker 1: (00:00)
Sadly sports are not immune from the impacts of the Omicron surge yesterday, the San Diego state university men's basketball team was forced to put its promising season on pause just days after a big win last week against a ranked, then unbe, Colorado state team here to tell us more about what it means for the team's prospects. This season is Bryce Miller sports columnist with the San Diego union Tribune. Bryce, welcome.
Speaker 2: (00:25)
Yeah, thanks for having me. So
Speaker 1: (00:27)
What did the team announce yesterday?
Speaker 2: (00:29)
Well, they're going on COVID pause, which is now a phrase it's beginning to kind of seep its way into our, into our language a bit in the COVID era. Um, basically it means they, if they don't have enough players to compete, um, you're required to have at least seven at this point to feel the team based on a roster that you turn into the conference. And, uh, they, they don't share a lot of that personal health information. Uh, they talk about it in broad strokes, but, um, because of HIPAA concerns, they don't give individual names, but essentially can do the math and say they've had enough cases that they don't have, uh, seven players available in play. Um, so that's going to, uh, you know, potentially knock out, uh, their next game and maybe, maybe the next two, uh, as they move forward and
Speaker 1: (01:15)
Your latest column, you lament the timing of the team's forced break. Why is the timing so unfortunate? It here? Well,
Speaker 2: (01:23)
San Diego state always plays defense. That's their DNA, that's their pedigree, which keeps them in lots of games, makes them an annual contender for the mountain west title positions them in most years to contend for the NCAA tournament. But this year offensively they'd struggled early, even, even with a, with a solid record to figure out what they're doing offensively. Matt Bradley is a transfer from Cal who always has been a player. People expected to carry the bulk of the load offensively. He finally had the huge, huge game, uh, in, in the situation national TV, CBS undefeated, number 20 Colorado state over the weekend. And, uh, kind of on a stage show that he can be someone offensively that you can turn to in those types of games. But they've, they're also getting a lot of contributions from other players offensively that they had to this point, Keisha Johnson, others, uh, just for lots of reasons, they're finally playing some of their best basketball and, uh, as a team with new pieces and parts that you kind of, you know, transfer portal and those things that make college basketball. So transient today, they were finally finding some rhythms, some chemistry on the court. And again, that went on national TV against an unbe team was a, was a big benchmark moving forward. And for all those reasons, uh, to just hit the brakes and hit stop at that point, uh, for this team in particular, what they're trying to do, where are they finally, uh, gotten to at this point? It, it, it doesn't feel like fortunate time for the aspects. I
Speaker 1: (02:49)
Mean, will any missed games be made up later in the season?
Speaker 2: (02:52)
That's the huge question in the mountain west in particular last year, last season, they built in a week at the end of the year to try to, you know, thinking in terms of, COVID trying to provide a cushion to make up games, if possible, if needed to determine conference titles to balance schedules. So it's a, a level playing field in terms of home in a way, you know, just a, a week to mop up all those things. They didn't do that this year. So as teams kind of, you know, if there aren't, COVID pauses with programs in the mountain west and the final week, that means those programs. If they're playing those games, won't have open dates to turn around and make up games with the Aztecs. It's not just a competitive concern. It's a financial concern. Again, mark Siegler reported that every home game to the Aztec right now is worth about $250,000 per game. And if you lose those games in conference, uh, refunds to season ticket holders, you start to just put all that together and, you know, and consider the broader impacts of this. It's a competitive thing, but it's also a financial thing. And the mountain west doesn't really have a set formula or strategy at the end of the season to deal with all this,
Speaker 1: (04:02)
You know, this isn't the first SDSU team to be impacted by COVID their football team went through COVID related difficulties, uh, lightened their season last year. What happened to that team?
Speaker 2: (04:12)
Well, speaking of, uh, poor timing, uh, not that there's any great timing for any of this, but San Diego state seems to be hit with it. You know, in a couple of the sports we mentioned, uh, it was the mountain west championship game against Utah state. And there was a lot on the line in that game, uh, because if they had won, I think they would've qualified for their most attractive, old situation. They would've played in the Jimmy Kim bowl at SoFi stadium in LA. So that was all on the line, play us, you know, they were going, they were on pace to go for a program record, uh, for single season wins. And then they had 20 players who were, uh, ruled out because of COVID and, or contact tracing. So you're talking about, you know, college football rosters have 85 players on 'em and you're missing 20, and you can do the math there and your head about what a factor that is, especially when you're playing a team. That's good enough that it's in the title game for your conference championship. So yeah, that, that was a huge factor in that championship game. And it's just one of those things, uh, they're hardly alone. It's happening all over the country and, and lots of sports.
Speaker 1: (05:18)
Hmm. You know, all sports teams and leagues have really had to the coronavirus pandemic at this point. And what do you think they've learned from this experience?
Speaker 2: (05:26)
I think they've learned to not plan too far ahead. like all of us really in life right now in the COVID era. I mean, it can change on a day to day basis. You can have your starting point guard one day and you don't have 'em for 10 days. The next you can have a, a huge game. Last weekend was a perfect example. The Aztecs were set to play Nevada at VAAs arena in San Diego. Uh, that program goes on pause and all of a sudden it creates in a 72 hour window on national TV. You're playing, uh, the other team that's expected to challenge for the conference title and all of a sudden with very little warning, you're playing an undefeated number 20 team in Colorado state. So last weekend was a perfect example of what they're learning is, is you can't look too far ahead. You, you have to kind of roll with the punches as they say. And, um, you know, nothing is guaranted and, uh, in college basketball, but I think it, that extends beyond sports as well.
Speaker 1: (06:21)
Flexibility is key. I've been speaking with Bryce Miller sports columnist with the San Diego union Tribune. Bryce. Thanks so much. Yeah. Thank you.
Just days after a convincing win against a nationally-ranked team, San Diego State University's men's basketball team was forced to pause their season Tuesday because of concerns over COVID-19.
Bryce Miller, sports columnist with The San Diego Union-Tribune, joined Midday Edition Wednesday to talk about how the timing for the pause was less than ideal for a team that was just starting to flourish.
"For lots of reasons, they were finally playing some of their best basketball," Miller said.
Despite their season's temporary stoppage, the SDSU men's basketball team is far from the first sports team that has had to navigate the uncertainty that comes with the pandemic.
"I think they've learned to not plan too far ahead, like all of us really right now, in life in the COVID era. It can change on a day-to-day basis," Miller said.