College basketball floats idea of bubbles for safe season — College Basketball | NBC Sports

In this unprecedented landscape of sports in a pandemic world, one indisputable fact has emerged: bubbles work.

College basketball floats idea of bubbles for safe season — College Basketball | NBC Sports

Associated PressSep 8, 2020, 5:25 PM EDT1 Comment

The NBA bubble has held. So has the NHL’s double bubble. The WNBA and MLS, no leaks.

In this unprecedented landscape of sports in a pandemic world, one indisputable fact has emerged: bubbles work.

Thousands of tests, minimal to no positive COVID-19 test results.

So as the NCAA gets set announce its plans for the 2020-21 college basketball season, there are clear precedents and blueprints in place should it decide to go the bubble route.

“It’s certainly viable,” said Mark Starsiak, vice president of sports at Intersport, a Chicago-based sports marketing and media agency, “From a basketball standpoint, I think we can follow those models.”

The college football restart has been scattershot. The season has already started, yet 53 FBS schools have the pads and helmets hanging on hooks while waiting for better pandemic news.

A much more unified plan is in place for the college basketball season.

The NCAA is hoping to start the season in late November/early December, with a vote by the Division I council expected Sept. 16.

A partnership between the Pac-12 and Quidel Corp. to potentially do daily, rapid COVID-19 tests on athletes should help smooth a return to the court.

The question then becomes: What’s the best way to safely play basketball again?

Bubbles may be the answer.

While bubble football would be next to impossible logistically, basketball could fit nicely.

The travel parties are much smaller and college basketball already has plenty of multiple-team events, from holiday and conference tournaments to the NCAA Tournament. Add the effective safety measures of the pro leagues, find suitable sites and bubble basketball could work.

The NCAA is already looking at it, reportedly filing a trademark for the phrase “Battle in the Bubble.” Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont also said there have been preliminary talks for bubble basketball at the Mohegan Sun resort.

“The idea of a bubble would be a really good idea, just to isolate all the teams who want to play against each other in that bubble and keep things safe, keep away from the public and keep us in our own area where we’re able to play the game the right way and safely,” Duke sophomore forward Wendell Moore, Jr. said.

A big key will be finding the right places to bubble.

The NBA has the ideal setup at Disney World, but college basketball might be better suited to follow the NHL’s lead.

Hockey’s two bubbles – Toronto and Edmonton, Alberta – cordoned off areas enclosing the arena and several nearby hotels. All personnel entering are tested and strict protocols are in place for vendors delivering food and packages into the bubbles.

Similar bubbles for college basketball could be set up at smaller resorts, cities with arenas and hotels nearby, or Division II or III schools with arenas not being used during the pandemic.

The NCAA could set up pods of multiple nonconference teams, conference tournaments could be held in similar fashion and so could the NCAA Tournament.

In other words, basketball bubbles could pop up all over the country.

“Maybe do it for maybe a week or two at a time, playing a certain amount of games and getting retested after you come back or something like that,” Memphis coach Penny Hardaway said. “It’s possible, but it’s not going to be easy.”

Pulling off a college basketball bubble, however, comes with a caveat.

NCAA players are considered students, so academics would have to be part of the equation.

Division I players are already accustomed to doing school work on the road and the majority take primarily online classes. To make the bubbles work, socially distant space would have to be carved out for the players to take their classes and study.

The programs may also have to rethink the size of their traveling parties.

“Discussions about the right amount of tutors or academic staff would need to take place,” said Starsiak, who has operated high-level sports and entertainment events for 15 years. ”

You have to look at, do we need three managers this time around? No, probably not. Do you take two and have a tutor or an academic come with us? Yeah, I think you could. I think there’s a way to kind of combine both things to have some live, in-person resources.”

The NCAA is going to do everything possible to have a basketball season.

The pandemic wiped out the NCAA Tournament last spring and the NCAA collected $270 million in cancellation insurance instead of the $1 billion TV payout it normally gets. A second straight year without March Madness could be devastating.

Bubbles may be the way to go.Tags: NCAAView 1 Comment

ACC coaches back idea of all D-I teams in 2021 NCAA tourney

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY SportsAssociated PressSep 9, 2020, 7:40 PM EDT2 Comments

RALEIGH, N.C. — Atlantic Coast Conference men’s basketball coaches are pushing the idea of having next year’s NCAA Tournament include all eligible teams in Division I.

Numerous league schools and coaches released statements Wednesday after the coaches held their weekly call to discuss the proposal, which was first reported by Stadium. There are 357 Division I programs in the country, with NCAA spokeswoman Meghan Durham saying 346 of those are eligible to play in next year’s tournament.

Virginia coach Tony Bennett said the ACC coaches are “united in strongly pursuing this” in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic that led to the cancellation of last year’s NCAA Tournament days before the field of 68 was set to be revealed. Multiple coaches said creating an everybody-gets-in format would be an incentive for schools as they create the safest conditions possible for returning to play.

“This is not a regular season,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said in a statement. “It is clearly an irregular season that will require something different. Our sport needs to be agile and creative. Most importantly, an all-inclusive postseason tournament will allow a unique and unprecedented opportunity for every team and every student-athlete to compete for a national championship.”

Durham declined comment specifically on the proposal in an email to The Associated Press on Wednesday. Last month, NCAA senior vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt said the Division I oversight committees for men’s and women’s basketball planned to announce by mid-September plans for whether the season and preseason practice would start on time or require a delay due to the pandemic.

Louisville coach Chris Mack said the proposal would provide flexibility during the season without mandating a number of nonconference or conference games to be played. And the league has already experienced that scheduling challenge with football and other fall sports.

The ACC announced in July that it would have each football team play 10 league games – including the addition of Notre Dame as a football member this year – and one nonconference game to be played in the home state of the member school. Those schedules were released in early August, slightly more than a month before Thursday’s UAB-Miami game kicks off the season.

“This is a time to think differently,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said, adding: “After all these players have been through, what better way to reward them than the opportunity to compete in an unprecedented version of the most exciting event in sports.”Tags: ACCBC EaglesBlue DevilsBoston CollegeBoston College EaglesCardinalsCavaliersClemsonClemson TigersDemon DeaconsDukeDuke Blue DevilsEaglesFighting IrishFlorida StateFlorida State SeminolesGeorgia TechGeorgia Tech Yellow JacketsHokiesHurricanesLouisvilleLouisville CardinalsMiamiMiami HurricanesNC StateNC State WolfpackNCAANorth Carolina StateNorth Carolina State WolfpackNotre DameNotre Dame Fighting IrishOrangePanthersPittPitt PanthersPittsburghPittsburgh PanthersSeminolesSyracuseSyracuse OrangeTigersVirginiaVirginia CavaliersVirginia TechVirginia Tech HokiesWake ForestWake Forest Demon DeaconsWolfpackYellow JacketsView 2 Comments

‘Father of the Final Four’ Tom Jernestedt dies at 75

Getty ImagesAssociated PressSep 6, 2020, 9:08 PM EDT4 Comments

INDIANAPOLIS — Tom Jernstedt, a member of the Naismith Hall of Fame for his contributions to college basketball and the NCAA Tournament, has died. He was 75.

The NCAA said Sunday Jernstedt died this weekend.

Nicknamed “Father of the Final Four,” Jernstedt has widely been credited with transforming the NCAA Tournament into the billion-dollar March Madness it has become today.

“A decade after his departure from the NCAA, Tom Jernstedt’s fingertips remain visible during March Madness and the Final Four,” NCAA senior vice president Dan Gavitt said in a statement. “His innovation and superb ability to develop relationships turned a basketball tournament into a three-week phenomenon that became a global event.”

A former back-up quarterback, Jernstedt worked his first Final Four in 1973 and helped push the growth of the NCAA Tournament from 25 teams to the 68, anything-can-happen bonanza held every spring.

Jernstedt helped the NCAA increase its television contract from just over $1 million to more than $10 billion when he left in 2011. He served as president of USA Basketball, was a member of the College Football Selection committee and was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame as a contributor in 2017.

“Tom Jernstedt was a humble and unsung steward of the game,” John L. Doleva, president and CEO of the Basketball Hall of Fame, said in a statement. “Under his direction, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament grew into a phenomenon that brings college basketball fans together on a global scale. He will forever be remembered as the Father of the Final Four and one of the most respected leaders in basketball.”

Jernstedt established himself as a team leader despite being a backup quarterback at Oregon from 1964-66 and went on to serve as the Ducks’ events manager. He joined the NCAA in 1972 and spent 38 years with the organization.

“Tom served as a friend and mentor to countless people in and around collegiate athletics, and I’m proud to be among that vast group of people,” Gavitt said. “His legacy within the NCAA and its membership, and his impact on the sport of college basketball, is eternal. We extend our deepest condolences to Tom’s family.”Tags: Dan GavittFinal FourJohn L. DolevaNaismith Hall of FameNCAATom JernstedtView 4 Comments

Aztecs extend Brian Dutcher’s contract 3 years through 2026

Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY SportsAssociated PressSep 6, 2020, 7:17 PM EDT4 Comments

SAN DIEGO — San Diego State basketball coach Brian Dutcher has signed a three-year contract extension through the 2025-26 season.

Dutcher signed the deal following one of the most successful seasons in school history. The Aztecs went 30-2, won the Mountain West regular-season title and were expected to be a No. 1 or 2 seed before the NCAA Tournament was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. They opened the season 26-0 and were the nation’s last undefeated team.

“Having spent more than 20 years at San Diego State University I understand what a special place this is,” Dutcher said in a statement Friday. “I am humbled and honored to continue to represent SDSU and Aztec Basketball as its head coach.”

Dutcher is 73-26 in three seasons, the most victories by an Aztecs coach in his first three seasons. He spent 18 seasons as Steve Fisher’s top assistant, including six as associate head coach/head coach in waiting. He took over as head coach after Fisher retired following the 2016-17 season. The Aztecs reached the NCAA Tournament in his first season.

Before that, he spent 10 seasons with Fisher at Michigan. In Dutcher’s first season with the Wolverines, Fisher was promoted to interim head coach on the eve of the NCAA Tournament and won the national championship.Tags: Brian DutcherMountain WestMWCNCAASan Diego StateSan Diego State AztecsView 4 Comments

Indiana halts all voluntary workouts

Michelle Pemberton/IndyStarAssociated PressSep 6, 2020, 7:08 PM EDT4 Comments

Indiana has halted all voluntary workouts indefinitely for its men’s basketball, field hockey, men’s soccer and wrestling teams after 14 participants tested positive for the coronavirus this week.

The Hoosiers did not identify which teams recorded the positive tests. The football team, like other Big Ten programs, is not playing this fall. Indiana said 63 positives have been reported from more than 1,400 tests of athletes, coaches and staff since June 8.

“Our athletic program is following strict protocols during these unprecedented times and we strongly support our medical staff as we try and mitigate this issue,” men’s basketball coach Archie Miller said.Tags: Archie MillerBig TencoronavirusCOVID-19HoosiersIndianaIndiana HoosiersNCAAView 4 Comments

Ewing hopes to carry on Thompson’s legacy at Georgetown

Brad Penner-USA TODAY SportsAssociated PressSep 6, 2020, 7:04 PM EDT4 Comments

WASHINGTON — Georgetown coach Patrick Ewing said Friday he will try to carry on the legacy of his former coach and lifelong mentor John Thompson, who died at 78.

Ewing, who won the 1984 national championship at Georgetown as a player under Thompson, returned to the school as coach in 2017 after a Hall of Fame NBA career.

He understands that he is now the school’s strongest link to Thompson, who took over a lowly Hoyas program and turned it into a national powerhouse.

“His legacy will always live on,” Ewing said during a video call with reporters. “Through me, through Alonzo (Mourning), through Dikembe (Mutombo), through all of the people he’s coached.”

“He has done a great job of teaching us not only to be great athletes but also great human beings. Now it’s my role, my responsibility to keep doing those things to the kids I’m teaching.”

Ewing, who’s 58, said Thompson was like a second father. They met when Ewing was a 16-year-old high school sophomore and remained close in the decades since.

“His teachings continue to guide me,” Ewing said. “I will definitely miss the opportunity to pick up a phone and call him with whatever questions I might have. Not only just coaching but also my life.”

Ewing said Georgetown players would likely wear a patch on their jerseys honoring Thompson, and he planned to speak to the university about putting Thompson’s name on its home court. Georgetown opened the Thompson Center on campus in 2016 to serve athletes in all sports. It features a life-size statue of Thompson in the main lobby.

Ewing said he visited with Thompson just two days before he died. Thompson had been hospitalized but was released to his home a couple weeks before his death.

“I was able to go over there the Friday before he passed,” Ewing said. “We sat and talked and just laughed. I didn’t know it was going to be goodbye because I was planning to go back. Then I got the text late on Sunday that he had passed.”Tags: Big EastGeorgetownGeorgetown HoyasHoyasJohn ThompsonNCAAPatrick EwingView 4 Comments

Pac-12 reaches agreement for rapid COVID-19 testing

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY SportsAssociated PressSep 6, 2020, 6:59 PM EDT5 Comments

SAN FRANCISCO — The Pac-12 has reached an agreement with a diagnostic testing company to implement up to daily COVID-19 testing for all close-contact sports across the conference.

The deal with Quidel Corporation announced Thursday is a major step toward safe resumption of Pac-12 sports, Commissioner Larry Scott said.

Tests and Quidel’s Sofia 2 testing machines are expected to be delivered to the conference’s schools by late September.

“The availability of a reliable test that can be administered daily, with almost immediate results, addresses one of the key concerns that was expressed by our medical advisory committee, as well as by student-athletes, coaches and others,” Scott said in a statement.

The Pac-12 announced last month it was pausing all sports until Jan. 1 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Pac-12 said it will review the testing breakthrough with its sport planning committees to evaluate the impact on a return to competition.Tags: coronavirusCOVID-19Larry ScottPac-12View 5 Comments

Minnesota transfer Liam Robbins granted immediate eligibility

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY SportsAssociated PressSep 6, 2020, 6:54 PM EDT3 Comments

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota transfer center Liam Robbins was granted immediate eligibility by the NCAA, the university announced.

Robbins made the switch in April after two seasons at Drake. The 7-foot, 235-pound Robbins will have two years of eligibility remaining with the Gophers.

As a sophomore in 2019-20, Robbins led the Bulldogs with 14.1 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game, landing on the All-Missouri Valley Conference second team. His 99 blocks were fifth in the country and a program record.

Robbins is a nephew of Gophers assistant coach Ed Conroy and a cousin of rising senior Hunt Conroy, a reserve guard, a family connection that certainly helped his case with the NCAA. He’s from Davenport, Iowa, which is about a 5 1/2-hour drive from Minneapolis.

Power forward Brandon Johnson, a graduate transfer from Western Michigan, will also factor prominently into the rotation whenever the 2020-21 season begins. The Gophers are waiting on an NCAA ruling on another transfer waiver request from guard Both Gach, a native of Austin, Minnesota, who played his first two years at Utah.

The Gophers will lose star center Daniel Oturu, who turned pro after his sophomore season, and shooting guard Payton Willis is transferring to Charleston. But point guard Marcus Carr pulled his name out of the draft and returned to the program for his junior year.Tags: Big TenMinnesotaMinnesota Golden GophersNCAALiam RobbinsView 3 Comments

Son of former Syracuse hoops star Billy Owens joins Orange

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY SportsAssociated PressSep 6, 2020, 6:48 PM EDT2 Comments

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Chaz Owens, the son of former Syracuse All-American Billy Owens, has joined the Orange, men’s basketball coach Jim Boeheim announced.

Chaz Owens spent the past year at Scotland Campus, a prep school in south-central Pennsylvania, in a postgraduate program after playing high school ball for four seasons in the state. As a senior at The Shipley School in the Philadelphia suburbs, the 6-foot-5 Owens averaged 11.4 points and 8.2 rebounds.

Billy Owens was a two-time All-American at Syracuse and Big East Conference player of the year in 1990-91. He finished with 1,840 career points and 910 rebounds in three seasons to rank 12th in scoring and ninth in rebounding in school history. He was selected by the Sacramento Kings as the third overall pick in the 1991 draft and spent 10 seasons in the NBA with six different teams.Tags: ACCBilly OwensChaz OwensJim BoeheimNCAAOrangeSyracuseSyracuse OrangeBilly OwensChaz OwensView 2 Comments

Arizona’s Akinjo immediately eligible after waiver

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY SportsAssociated PressSep 6, 2020, 6:45 PM EDT4 Comments

TUCSON, Ariz. —  Arizona guard James Akinjo has been granted a waiver by the NCAA and will immediately be eligible after transferring from Georgetown.

The decision announced Tuesday gives Akinjo two years of eligibility left.

A 6-foot guard, Akinjo was the Big East freshman of the year in 2018-19 after averaging 13.4 points and 5.2 assists. Akinjo appeared in seven games for the Hoyas last season before opting to transfer.

The Oakland, California, native arrived in Tucson last spring and was able to practice with the Wildcats.

Akinjo could play a key role on a team that lost three freshmen who declared early for the NBA draft.Tags: ArizonaArizona WildcatsBig EastGeorgetownGeorgetown HoyasHoyasNCAAPac-12WildcatsJames AkinjoView 4 Comments

Tyler Harris can play hoops in 2020-21 for Iowa State

Joe Rondone/The Commercial AppealAssociated PressSep 6, 2020, 6:41 PM EDT2 Comments

AMES, Iowa — The NCAA has granted immediate eligibility to Iowa State guard Tyler Harris, who transferred from Memphis after last season.

Iowa State announced Monday that Harris would be allowed to play this season. He averaged 9.9 points per game and made 138 3-pointers in two seasons with the Tigers.

“We are really excited for Tyler and his family that his waiver was approved,” coach Steve Prohm said. “Tyler will bring experience to our team and we look forward to having him out on the court with us this season.”

Harris has started 15 of 67 career games. He has scored 10 or more points 35 times, posting a career-high 25 in a win against Charleston as a freshman. Harris is a career 33% shooter on 3-pointers and 84% on free throws.

Iowa State also added transfers Jalen Coleman-Lands (DePaul) and Blake Hinson (Mississippi). Coleman-Lands is a graduate transfer who is immediately eligible. The NCAA hasn’t ruled on Hinson’s status for this season.Tags: AACBig 12CyclonesIowa StateIowa State CyclonesMemphisMemphis TigersNCAATigersTyler HarrisView 2 Comments

Coaching legend John Thompson dies at 78

Getty ImagesAssociated PressAug 31, 2020, 10:58 AM EDTLeave a comment

WASHINGTON — John Thompson, the imposing Hall of Famer who turned Georgetown into a “Hoya Paranoia” powerhouse and became the first Black coach to lead a team to the NCAA men’s basketball championship, has died. He was 78.

His death was announced in a family statement released by Georgetown on Monday. No details were disclosed.

“Our father was an inspiration to many and devoted his life to developing young people not simply on but, most importantly, off the basketball court. He is revered as a historic shepherd of the sport, dedicated to the welfare of his community above all else,” the statement said. “However, for us, his greatest legacy remains as a father, grandfather, uncle, and friend. More than a coach, he was our foundation. More than a legend, he was the voice in our ear everyday.”

One of the most celebrated and polarizing figures in his sport, Thompson took over a moribund Georgetown program in the 1970s and molded it in his unique style into a perennial contender, culminating with a national championship team anchored by center Patrick Ewing in 1984.

Georgetown reached two other title games with Thompson in charge and Ewing patrolling the paint, losing to Michael Jordan’s North Carolina team in 1982 and to Villanova in 1985.

At 6-foot-10, with an ever-present white towel slung over his shoulder, Thompson literally and figuratively towered over the Hoyas for decades, becoming a patriarch of sorts after he quit coaching in 1999.

One of his sons, John Thompson III, was hired as Georgetown’s coach in 2004. When the son was fired in 2017, the elder Thompson — known affectionately as “Big John” or “Pops” to many — was at the news conference announcing Ewing as the successor.

Along the way, Thompson said what he thought, shielded his players from the media and took positions that weren’t always popular. He never shied away from sensitive topics — particularly the role of race in both sports and society — and he once famously walked off the court before a game to protest an NCAA rule because he felt it hurt minority athletes.

“I’ll probably be remembered for all the things that kept me out of the Hall of Fame, ironically, more than for the things that got me into it,” Thompson said on the day he was elected to the Hall in 1999.

Thompson became coach of the Hoyas in 1972 and began remaking a team that was 3-23 the previous season. Over the next 27 years, he led Georgetown to 14 straight NCAA tournaments (1979-92), 24 consecutive postseason appearances (20 NCAA, 4 NIT), three Final Fours (1982, 1984, 1985) and won six Big East tournament championships.

“He was one of a kind,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, a fierce rival for many years in the Big East Conference, said Monday. “There aren’t that many. He brought a presence to the game that nobody does, has. He was a great coach, but he was also a role model for a lot of coaches– white coaches and Black coaches.”

Employing a physical, defense-focused approach that frequently relied on a dominant center — Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo were among his other pupils — Thompson compiled a 596-239 record (.715 winning percentage). He had 26 players drafted by the NBA.

One of his honors — his selection as coach of the U.S. team for the 1988 Olympics — had a sour ending when the Americans had to settle for the bronze medal. It was a result so disappointing that Thompson put himself on a sort of self-imposed leave at Georgetown for a while, coaching practices and games but leaving many other duties to his assistants.

Off the court, Thompson was both a role model and a lightning rod. A stickler for academics, he kept a deflated basketball on his desk, a reminder to his players that a degree was a necessity because a career in basketball relied on a tenuous “nine pounds of air.”

The school boasted that 76 of 78 players who played four seasons under Thompson received their degrees.

He was a Black coach who recruited mostly Black players to a predominantly white Jesuit university in Washington, and Thompson never hesitated to speak out on behalf of his players.

One of the most dramatic moments in Georgetown history came on Jan. 14, 1989, when he walked off the court to a standing ovation before the tipoff of a home game against Boston College, demonstrating in a most public way his displeasure against NCAA Proposition 42.

The rule denied athletic scholarships to freshmen who didn’t meet certain requirements, and Thompson said it was biased against underprivileged students. Opposition from Thompson, and others, led the NCAA to modify the rule.

Thompson’s most daring move came that same year, when he summoned notorious drug kingpin Rayful Edmond III for a meeting in the coach’s office. Thompson warned Edmond to stop associating with Hoyas players and to leave them alone, using his respect in the Black community to become one of the few people to stare down Edmond and not face a reprisal.

Though aware of his influence, Thompson did not take pride in becoming the first Black coach to take a team to the Final Four, and he let a room full of reporters know it when asked his feelings on the subject at a news conference in 1982.

“I resent the hell out of that question if it implies I am the first Black coach competent enough to take a team to the Final Four,” Thompson said. “Other Blacks have been denied the right in this country; coaches who have the ability. I don’t take any pride in being the first Black coach in the Final Four. I find the question extremely offensive.”

Born Sept. 2, 1941, John R. Thompson Jr. grew up in Washington, D.C. His father was always working – on a farm in Maryland and later as a laborer in the city – and could neither read nor write.

“I never in my life saw my father’s hands clean,” Thompson told The Associated Press in 2007. “Never. He’d come home and scrub his hands with this ugly brown soap that looked like tar. I thought that was the color of his hands. When I was still coaching, kids would show up late for practice and I’d (say) … `My father got up every morning of his life at 5 a.m. to go to work. Without an alarm.`”

Thompson’s parents emphasized education, but he struggled in part of because of poor eyesight and labored in Catholic grammar school. He was moved to a segregated public school, had a growth spurt and became good enough at basketball to get into John Carroll, a Catholic high school, where he led the team to 55 consecutive victories and two city titles.

He went to Providence College as one of the most touted basketball prospects in the country and led the Friars to the first NCAA bid in school history. He graduated in 1964 and played two seasons with Red Auerbach’s Boston Celtics, earning a pair of championship rings as a sparingly used backup to Bill Russell.

Thompson returned to Washington, got his master’s degree in guidance and counseling from the University of the District of Columbia and went 122-28 over six seasons at St. Anthony’s before accepting the job at Georgetown, an elite school that had relatively few Black students. Faculty and students rallied around him after a bedsheet with racist words was hung inside the school’s gym before a game during the 1974-75 season.

Thompson sheltered his players with closed practices, tightly controlled media access and a prohibition on interviews with freshmen in their first semester — a restriction that still stands for Georgetown’s basketball team. Combined with Thompson’s flashes of emotion and his players’ rough-and-tumble style of play, it wasn’t long before the words “Hoya Paranoia” came to epitomize the new era of basketball on the Hilltop campus.

Georgetown lost the 1982 NCAA championship game when Fred Brown mistakenly passed the ball to North Carolina’s James Worthy in the game’s final seconds. Two years later, Ewing led an 84-75 win over Houston in the title game. The Hoyas were on the verge of a repeat the following year when they were stunned in the championship game by coach Rollie Massimino’s Villanova team in one of the biggest upsets in tournament history.

Success allowed Thompson to rake in money through endorsements, but he ran afoul of his Georgetown bosses when he applied for a gambling license for a business venture in Nevada in 1995. Thompson, who liked playing the slot machines in Las Vegas, reluctantly dropped the application after the university president objected.

Centers Ewing, Mourning and Mutombo turned Georgetown into “Big Man U” under Thompson, although his last superstar was guard Allen Iverson, who in 1996 also became the first player under Thompson to leave school early for the NBA draft.

“Thanks for Saving My Life Coach,” Iverson wrote at the start of an Instagram post Monday with photos of the pair.

The Hoyas teams in the 1990s never came close to matching the achievements of the 1980s, and Thompson’s era came to a surprising and sudden end when he resigned in the middle of the 1998-99 season, citing distractions from a pending divorce.

Thompson didn’t fade from the limelight. He became a sports radio talk show host and a TV and radio game analyst, joining the very profession he had frustrated so often as a coach. He loosened up, allowing the public to see his lighter side, but he remained pointed and combative when a topic mattered to him.

A torch was passed in 2004, when John Thompson III became Georgetown’s coach. The younger Thompson, with “Pops” often watching from the stands or sitting in the back of the room for news conferences, returned the Hoyas to the Final Four in 2007.

Another son, Ronny Thompson, was head coach for one season at Ball State and is now a TV analyst.Leave a comment

Lute Olson, Hall of Fame coach, Arizona icon, dies at 85

Getty ImagesAssociated PressAug 28, 2020, 12:18 AM EDTLeave a comment

TUCSON, Ariz. — Lute Olson, the Hall of Fame coach who turned Arizona into a college basketball powerhouse and led the program to its lone national title in 1997, has died. He was 85.

Olson’s family said he died Thursday evening. The cause of death wasn’t given.

“Coach Olson is the absolute best, one of the greatest coaches ever and one of the greatest human beings ever,” Georgia Tech coach and former Arizona player Josh Pastner tweeted. “My feelings of gratitude and appreciation cannot be put in words. I love him dearly. My heart hurts, but I know he is now in heaven. May god bless his family. (hash)RIP”

Olson spent 24 seasons at Arizona, revitalizing a fan base in the desert while transforming a program that had been to the NCAA Tournament just three times in 79 years before he was hired in 1983.

Olson first took the Wildcats to the NCAA Tournament during his second season in Tucson to start a string of 25 straight appearances. The streak would have been the third-longest in NCAA history, but the 1999 and 2008 appearances were later vacated by the NCAA for impermissible benefits to players and recruiting violations.

The Wildcats won a national championship under Olson in 1997 with a team led by Mike Bibby, Jason Terry and Miles Simon. Olson’s Arizona teams reached the Final Four four times and lost the 2001 national title game to Duke.

“It’s hard to put into words how much Lute Olson meant to me,” Warriors and former Olson player Steve Kerr tweeted. “He was an amazing coach & a wonderful man. Being part of the U of A basketball family changed my life forever. I will never forget Coach O, those awesome nights at McKale and all my teammates. Thank you Coach- I love you!”

Olson won a school-record 589 games at Arizona, 11 Pac-10 titles and was named the conference coach of the year seven times. He led Arizona to 20 straight 20-win seasons and is one of five coaches in NCAA history with 29 seasons of at least 20 wins.

Olson’s 327 conference victories are most in Pac-10/12 history and he was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame in 2002. A statue of Olson holding the national title trophy was unveiled outside McKale Center in 2018.

“It’s rare that a man is a Hall of Famer and still under appreciated,” former Arizona and NBA player Richard Jefferson tweeted. “I’ll always feel like you never got the credit you deserved as a leader, family man, grandfather, coach and as a mentor. I love you Coach O.”

Olson had a series of health issues late in his coaching career, leading to his retirement in 2008.

Arizona announced minutes before the 2007-08 season opener that Olson would take an indefinite leave of absence. Associate head coach Kevin O’Neill coached the Wildcats on an interim basis the rest of the season.

Olson was set to return for the 2008-09 season, but the school announced his retirement after he missed practice and a function in Tucson. His doctor held a news conference five days later, saying Olson had an initially undiagnosed stroke earlier in the year, causing depression and impaired judgment. Olson also was hospitalized in 2019 after suffering a minor stroke.

Olson remained in Tucson and became a regular at McKale Center during his retirement, drawing cheers every time he appeared on the video board. The floor at McKale Center was named Lute & Bobbi Olson Court in 2001 in honor of Olson and his first wife, Bobbi.

Bobbi Olson died in 2001 due to complications from ovarian cancer. Olson remarried twice and is survived by his third wife, Kelly, and five children.

“I will miss seeing him at our home games and hearing our crowd yell, `Lute!”‘ current Arizona coach Sean Miller said in a statement “My family joins all of the current members of the Arizona Basketball program in sending our condolences and prayers to his wife, Kelly, and the entire Olson Family. I am forever grateful to be a part of the basketball program and community that he impacted so immensely. Coach O will certainly be missed, but always remembered by us.”

Born on a farm outside Mayville, North Dakota, on Sept. 22, 1934, Olson led his high school team to the 1952 state championship and was a three-sport athlete at Augsburg College in Minnesota from 1953 to 1956.

Olson started his career as a high school coach in Minnesota and Southern California before becoming the head coach at Long Beach City College, where he won the state junior college title in 1971.

He spent one season at Long Beach State before going on to coach nine seasons at Iowa. He led the Hawkeyes to the NCAA Tournament his final five seasons, including a trip to the 1980 Final Four.

Olson had a career record of 780-280 in 34 years as a Division I coach.Tags: ArizonaArizona WildcatsLute OlsonNCAAPac-12Leave a comment

NCAA approves Nolley’s transfer from Virginia Tech to Memphis

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY SportsAssociated PressAug 27, 2020, 9:16 PM EDT3 Comments

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The NCAA has approved guard Landers Nolley II’s request for a transfer, allowing him to play this season at Memphis.

Memphis announced the NCAA’s approval Thursday.

The 6-foot-7 guard-forward played his freshman year at Virginia Tech and was on the Atlantic Coast Conference All-Freshman team last season. Nolley led the Hokies in scoring averaging 15.5 points. He also had 5.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 29 starts.

Nolley sat out the 2018-19 season after leading his high school teams to three straight state championships. He led the state of Georgia in scoring as a senior.Tags: AACACCMemphisMemphis TigersNCAAVirgina TechVirginia Tech HokiesLanders Nolley IIView 3 Comments

NCAA probe of LSU’s Wade includes offers to 11 players

Stephen Lew-USA TODAY SportsAssociated PressAug 27, 2020, 9:11 PM EDT3 Comments

BATON ROUGE, La. — NCAA enforcement officials say LSU basketball coach Will Wade is suspected of offering or providing “impermissible benefits” to 11 prospective recruits or people associated with them.

The allegation is detailed in documents made public Wednesday by LSU.

The documents include NCAA vice president of enforcement Jonathan Duncan’s request on July 15 that a probe into Wade’s recruiting tactics be referred to the NCAA’s Independent Accountability Resolution Process.

That process, which is set up to handle complicated infractions cases, has been known to take six or more months to play out, making it likely that Wade will remain LSU’s coach through the 2020-21 season – unless the coach chooses to step down, or new and explosive evidence surfaces before or during the upcoming season.

In Wade’s case, NCAA enforcement officials allege that the LSU coach and his attorneys have engaged in uncooperative behavior that has “delayed resolution dramatically.”

NCAA officials also contend that even LSU athletics officials have struggled to get Wade to cooperate in a forthcoming and timely manner.

Since early September 2018, “the enforcement staff has worked diligently to investigate potential violations,” Duncan wrote. “But numerous delays by Mr. Wade and his counsel in providing basic information requested by the enforcement staff have significantly impacted the timeliness of the investigation and the enforcement staff’s ability to develop information.”

NCAA officials say because of delays caused by Wade, they have been able to interview just 16 of 75 people believed to have knowledge of or involvement in violations in the case.

“Put simply, the enforcement staff believes many material facts remain uncovered and Mr. Wade’s behaviors to date do not suggest favorable changes in his level of cooperation moving forward,” Duncan’s letter said. “The traditional peer review process cannot work effectively when a current institutional leader – here the head men’s basketball coach – resists good faith efforts to discover basic information about his own conduct and communications.”

LSU senior associate Athletic Director Robert Munson said Wednesday that LSU cannot comment on a pending case beyond documents it has made available. The documents were posted online by LSU after The Advocate of Baton Rouge initially obtained them in a public-records request.

Those documents include a written response from LSU that states LSU also was frustrated by the pace at which the case was moving, “but believed at every juncture that coach Wade and his counsel were acting in good faith.”

LSU’s written response to the NCAA includes details about Wade’s lawyer being diagnosed with cancer, requiring treatment that included multiple surgeries and chemotherapy, which made it difficult for him to comply with investigators’ requests as quickly as he would have liked.

The Wade investigation grew out of a Yahoo report quoting FBI wiretaps in which the LSU coach discussed a recruiting offer in a phone call with Christian Dawkins, one of several men who was convicted in 2018 of funneling improper cash benefits to families of recruits in exchange for player commitments to certain colleges.

After initially refusing to meet with LSU administrators about that report, Wade was suspended for LSU’s final regular-season game of 2019, along with the SEC and NCAA tournaments that season.

Wade was reinstated after agreeing to meet with LSU in April 2019, but he also agreed to a new contract in which he forfeited certain performance bonuses and agreed to new language allowing LSU to fire him with cause should the school receive an NCAA notice of allegations for major violations, classified as a “Level 1” or “Level 2” violation.

In this case, such notice would not come until after the normally lengthy Independent Accountability Resolution Process has played out.Tags: Christian DawkinsLSULSU TigersNCAARobert MunsonWill WadeView 3 Comments

Syracuse guard Alan Griffin cleared to play

David Banks-USA TODAY SportsAssociated PressAug 19, 2020, 4:36 PM EDT4 Comments

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Syracuse guard Alan Griffin has been granted a waiver of the transfer residence requirement by the NCAA and is immediately eligible to play for the Orange, the school announced Tuesday.

A junior guard from Ossining, New York, Griffin spent his first two college seasons at Illinois and has two years of eligibility remaining.

Griffin saw action in 30 contests for the Illini as a freshman, averaging 2.8 points and 1.6 rebounds per game. In his sophomore season he averaged 8.9 points and 4.5 rebounds over 28 games and made 47 3-pointers. His 3-point percentage (41.6) was the best mark on the team.Tags: NCAASyracuseSyracuse OrangeAlan GriffinView 4 Comments

NCAA looks to September for decision on basketball tipoff

CHARLIE NYE/USA TODAY NETWORK via Imagn Content Services via Imagn Content Services, LLCAssociated PressAug 19, 2020, 4:30 PM EDT1 Comment

INDIANAPOLIS — The NCAA will likely decide next month whether to start the college basketball season on time or have a delay due to the coronavirus pandemic.

NCAA senior vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt said Monday that mid-September will likely be the first of many decisions about the 2020-21 season. Gavitt said the NCAA has developed and studied contingency plans in case the season cannot be started on Nov. 10.

Four conferences, including the Big Ten and Pac-12, have postponed fall sports and hope to play in the spring. Six leagues, including the Big 12, ACC and SEC, are moving forward with plans to play in the fall.

The Pac-12 has said its postponement includes basketball, but other conferences have not mentioned plans for hoops.

Students at colleges across the country have started returning to campuses in recent weeks, leading to new COVID-19 clusters, and numerous football programs have been hit by positive tests.Tags: ACCBig 12Big TencoronavirusCOVID-19Dan GavittNCAAPac-12SECView 1 Comment

NABC to give college hoops players voice with new coalition

Scott Olmos-USA TODAY SportsAssociated PressAug 19, 2020, 4:26 PM EDTLeave a comment

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The National Association of Basketball Coaches is creating a coalition of players to provide feedback on a variety of issues, the latest example of student-athletes gaining a greater voice both on and off the court.

NABC executive director Craig Robinson said Monday that the coalition will meet quarterly and address the organization’s board of directors and NCAA committees. The coalition also will provide coaches and other NABC members with their own experiences in professional and personal development opportunities.

Members of the initial coalition are North Carolina’s Armando Bacot, Colorado star Evan Battey, Kentucky forward Keion Brooks Jr., Harvard’s Kale Catchings, Villanova guard Collin Gillespie, Gonzaga’s Corey Kispert, Michigan State star Joshua Langford, Duke’s Wendell Moore Jr., TCU’s RJ Nembhard, Syracuse’s Bourama Sidibe and High Point’s John-Michael Wright.Tags: Armando BacotBourama SidibeCollin GillespieCorey KispertCraig RobinsonEvan BatteyJohn-Michael WrightJoshua LangfordKale CatchingsKeion Brooks Jr.NABCNational Association of Basketball CoachesRJ NembhardWendell Moore Jr.

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Iowa football players put fans on notice: Support their movement or don’t support the Hawkeyes —

Former and now current players have voiced their opinions on social media over the last several days

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Basketball’s EuroLeague cancels season because of virus — New Delhi Times

Europe’s top basketball league canceled the remainder of its season Monday because of the coronavirus pandemic, saying health concerns had to be paramount despite numerous attempts to find ways to resume play. The EuroLeague, which is composed of 18 teams across 10 European nations, had been suspended since March 12. League officials said they “explored […]

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MILAN — Italian professional team Olympia Milano has offered Davide Moretti a multi-year contract, according to a report on Sunday morning. Moretti has one year left at Texas Tech, and he would have to forgo his final season if he accepts the contract. In three years as a Red Raider, Moretti has averaged 9.1 points […]

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Tulane Basketball Player Teshaun Hightower Has Been Charged With Murder —

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Former Villanova big man Mouphtaou Yarou has found success in France and continues to work his way back from an Achilles injury — The Next Prospect

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It was the hottest basketball sectional. Then attendees started dying of coronavirus —

On March 6, there were five people in Indianapolis’ Lawrence Central High School gym who later died after testing positive for coronavirus.

It was the hottest basketball sectional. Then attendees started dying of coronavirus —

Kyle NeddenriepIndianapolis Star0:100:17

It was the hottest ticket in the state of Indiana for high school basketball. Four great teams. An electric atmosphere was guaranteed for the night of March 6 at Lawrence Central High School in Indianapolis, where 2,800 fans would pack the gym for the sectional semifinals.

But early on that Friday afternoon, the calls started coming in to Lawrence Central.

It was revealed by state officials at 11 a.m. that the first person in Indiana had tested positive for coronavirus at Community Health North, four miles from the school.

“We started getting calls,” Lawrence Central athletic director Ryan Banas said, “wondering if we were still going to play.”

The games were played that night — and the following night — just like they were in 63 other venues around the state. Fans at Lawrence Central that week for Sectional 10 were treated to a basketball bonanza of incredible games and individual performances.

But on that night of March 6, there were five people in the gym who later died after testing positive for coronavirus. There’s no way to know if they contracted it at Lawrence Central. But families are left to mourn.

Warren Central High School junior Malik Stanley (12), right, inbounds the ball to teammate Derek Jefferson (33) during the first half of action in an IHSAA boys’ semi-final sectional basketball game against North Central High School, Friday, March 6, 2020, at Lawrence Central High School.

Paul Loggan was there, standing much of the game at the end of North Central’s bench. Roscoe Taylor was there, sitting in the lower level of Warren Central High School section. So was Charles Johnson, three rows up behind the Warren Central bench and next to his wife, Kay. Larry Rush was there, too, in the Lawrence North High School section, one of the “Four Horsemen” of Wildcat fans. And Jim DeSalle, took a seat for the second game, near the Lawrence North bench. The following night, he would climb a ladder, smile and clip a piece of the sectional championship net.

In the coming days or weeks, all five men would die from health complications caused by the coronavirus. At least a dozen others who were there have tested positive or experienced symptoms consistent with the virus.

“The problem with any communal event like a basketball tournament is that you’ve got a clustering of people in close proximity,” said Dr. Cole Beeler, infectious diseases doctor at Indiana University Health.

There is no way to pinpoint exactly when the virus spread. Loggan, 57, was only at Lawrence Central one night, for a little more than two hours. He worked around hundreds of people all day, every day. DeSalle, 70, attended a Lawrence Township youth basketball event the day of the sectional championship game. Rush, 67, was an Uber driver. Johnson, 78, went to the grocery store and church that weekend. Taylor, 43, was around kids and adults in his job as a cafeteria worker at Stonybrook Middle School.

Hindsight is 20/20. On March 6, the reality is the people inside Lawrence Central’s gym — or any other high school gym in the state — were not thinking about the possibility of contracting coronavirus. There were hugs. There were handshakes. There were high-fives. Everything that seemed normal about basketball still existed that weekend. It was not until later, with the benefit of time, that a more complete picture began to emerge.

“The sad thing looking back,” said Kay Johnson, the widow of Charles Johnson, “is that we didn’t know.”


What did we know on the afternoon of March 6?

About an hour-and-a-half before Banas first heard the news from a colleague, state officials revealed the first person in Indiana had tested positive for coronavirus. The man, who had recently returned from a trip to Boston, was said to be in isolation and not considered a high risk to develop severe illness. 

“There is no ongoing risk to the public,” state department of health commissioner Dr. Kris Box said that day in relation to that specific case.

Box encouraged Hoosiers to cover their coughs, wash hands thoroughly, elbow bump instead of shaking hands and stay home if sick before adding: “The situation with COVID-19 is changing rapidly and we can expect to see other cases in Indiana in the future.”

Darren Thomas, the district athletic director for Indianapolis Public Schools, called Banas early that afternoon to ask if the sectional would move forward as planned. Banas, after talking to his administration, reached out to the Indiana High School Athletic Association. At 2:05 p.m., the IHSAA issued the following statement:

“We will continue to monitor the developments and listen to medical experts and if it becomes necessary to make adjustments to high school sporting events, we will work with our member schools to take every precaution to ensure a healthy and safe environment for everyone involved.”

Just before 3 p.m., with the blessing of the other four athletic directors — Warren Central’s Marques Clayton, Crispus Attucks’ Chris Hawkins, Lawrence North’s Mike Penrose and North Central’s Paul Loggan — Banas sent a tweet from Lawrence Central’s athletic department Twitter account directing fans to the IHSAA statement, adding: “We have received numerous calls this afternoon regarding the coronavirus case in Marion County and the status of our sectional games tonight. The games will be played as scheduled.”

As they were in 63 other venues that night in Indiana, the games were played.

Another packed house watched as Warren Central junior Malik Stanley scored 34 points to outduel North Central super sophomore Leland Walker and his 30 points in a 77-69 win and Lawrence North rally from a five-point deficit in the final 1:37 to overcome Sincere McMahon’s 32-point outburst to win a 76-73 thriller over Crispus Attucks.

It was high school basketball at its best. 


Late the next night, after Lawrence North wrapped up its first sectional title in five years, Lawrence North assistant Jim Stanbrough sat at a table with DeSalle at Alibi’s Grill on North Shadeland Avenue, a common postgame meeting spot for the coaching staff.

The rest of the Lawrence North staff was spread out among three other tables. There were smiles and laughs as they replayed the week. Sectional week started with a dominant performance on Wednesday in a win over rival Lawrence Central, followed by the close calls against Attucks and Warren Central. It was a time to unwind a bit before preparation started for the regional on March 14.

Stanbrough, 64, has replayed that night over and over in his mind. DeSalle, 70, fell ill a few days later and was hospitalized. He tested positive for coronavirus and died on April 1.

“That night is something I’ll never forget,” Stanbrough said. “Jim and I sat at a table, just the two of us. I’ll always remember that. Did I give it to him? Did he give it to me? I don’t know the answer. There were a lot of people connected to it.”

Stanbrough started feeling sick the after their dinner. Three days later on March 10, he visited a doctor. He tested positive for the flu, but even with medicine he said he “kept going downhill.” Fevers. Dry coughs. Stanbrough visited the emergency room on March 17 and 19 and was sent home. Two days later, he was back again but this time we was admitted. 

He tested positive for COVID-19 at IU Health North on March 23. Stanbrough stayed in the hospital for six days.

“I came home and got to feeling better for a couple days,” he said. “Then I started going south again and started having some pretty severe chest pains.”

On April 2, Stanbrough was readmitted and spent another six days in the hospital. An ultrasound discovered he had blood clots in both legs and his lungs. Stanbrough, who had no pre-existing health conditions previously, will be on blood thinners for several months. His wife, Marta, also tested positive for coronavirus, though her symptoms were limited to losing her senses of taste and smell.

“Those first couple days I went in, I was very scared,” Stanbrough said. “You start thinking about things you don’t want to think about. Who is going to take care of this or that. You start thinking about those things.”

That same week DeSalle and Stanbrough started to feel ill, Gerad Good, another assistant on the Lawrence North staff, did too. Four days after the sectional championship, Good, 49, had chills. He slept in his traveling sweatsuit, wrapped in blankets. His temperature rocketed to 102, then 103. 

“Headaches were kind of the start of it,” Good said. “I had body aches and started taking Tylenol to heal some of that pain. I thought I was coming down with the flu or a sinus infection.”

Good twice visited the doctor and was told it could be a sinus infection. It was not until it was confirmed to him that both DeSalle and Stanbrough had tested positive for coronavirus that Good was able to also get tested. It, too, was positive.

For 17 days, Good said he had a fever that reached as high as 103.8 one night. Fortunately for Good, who is asthmatic, the virus never got into his lungs.

“It almost feels like a dream that it even happened,” Good said. “You don’t think you can get that sick. There’s no way. I was just like everybody else, washing my hands and giving people elbow taps. I was being safe — or thought I was. That’s all we knew at our level.”

On March 12, two days prior to the regional, the IHSAA announced the games at the 16 regional sites would go on as scheduled, but with spectators limited to 75 people per school and to include only essential personnel, coaches, administrative staff and immediate family. But the sports world was literally changing by the minute. As IHSAA commissioner Bobby Cox stepped to the podium at the IHSAA office just before noon on March 12, the Big Ten announced it was calling off its tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Twenty-four hours later, at noon on Friday, the IHSAA announced it was postponing the tournament. Had the games been played, Lawrence North would have been without Stanbrough, Good and DeSalle on the bench that regional Saturday.

“There was no way,” said Good, who lost 22 pounds and is still not well. “I wasn’t even thinking about basketball.”


It seems clear now that the coronavirus was already spreading during the sectional week that started on March 3 and probably even before. On March 11, when Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz tested positive for coronavirus and the NBA subsequently suspended its season, the reality of how serious the disease is and how quickly it can spread became real for many people in the sports world.

“We have a good idea of how this virus spreads,” Dr. Beeler, said. “We think it spreads by large droplets that are passed out of the mouth when people are breathing or talking or shouting. It’s infectious around a 6-foot radius.

“The thing that’s scary about this virus is that you can infect someone and not have any symptoms yourself. It may have been that there was someone there, or a few people there, that were infected and didn’t even know they were infected.”

It is possible, even likely, that all of the extra precautions that week would not have mattered because of the nature of a sectional tournament, too, he said.

“You’ve got a bunch of people sitting close to each other,” Dr. Beeler added. “The other thing is that people are probably yelling and screaming and cheering on their teams. We know you’re probably kicking out a lot more droplets as you talk and scream than you would if you are just breathing or talking in a normal voice.”

He said some studies have suggested that loud talking and singing might spread droplets even further.

“It would make it a pretty fertile territory for spreading infection.”

Hindsight is 20/20 he said.

“Right now I can tell you, ‘Oh yeah, for sure. We should have easily done stuff differently back then.’ But we had almost no information back then,” Dr. Beeler said. “It was just starting to hit us. The consequences of shutting everything back down back then weren’t fully understood.”

If a fan attending the games the night of March 6 had paid attention, they would have noticed, the workers handling the tickets, money and programs were wearing gloves. There was hand sanitizer on the table. That night, after the games, the workers cleaning the gym wore gloves as they disinfected every railing, every chair, every table in the gym.

Banas, who has Lyme disease and later found out he is considered higher risk for severe illness from coronavirus, remembers at one point turning to athletic administrative assistant Lauren Hughes and asking: “Are we overreacting?”

“All any of us knew that Friday was that one guy had it at Community North and was back home,” Banas said. “I felt like we did everything we could with the little knowledge that we had at that point.”


Khyrie Abdullah, 33, did not attend Sectional 10 on the weekend, but he was there on March 3 for the Warren Central-Tech game and the sold-out doubleheader on Wednesday (March 4) between Lawrence Central and Lawrence North and Cathedral and Crispus Attucks. On March 10, Abdullah, a track coach at Lawrence Central and assistant football coach, started to feel sick. On March 16, he went to the hospital with dizziness and shortness of breath. On March 19, he went on a ventilator and stayed on it for 13 days, during which time his coronavirus test came back positive.

Abdullah woke up on April 1 and has been in the recovery process since. He returned home this week. His wife, Lauren, is due with their first child on June 14. She and the baby are healthy.

“I probably walked around with it for two weeks and had no idea,” Abdullah said. “I’m lucky. The doctors said my age probably helped. My wife went into superhero mode. I was out for two weeks and thought it was two hours. It was like somebody just turned out the lights. I’ve thought a lot about it. Why did my body respond and not others? I’m thankful. The staff at Community North was incredible.”

Scott Frank was also at the sectional on Wednesday, March 4, for both games of the doubleheader. Frank’s son, Jarret, was a senior on the Cathedral team. By March 11, he was experiencing symptoms that included headaches, extreme fatigue and dizziness. On March 20, he found out he had tested positive for coronavirus.

Frank, 51, never experienced any chest pain, but did lose his sense of smell.

“The timeline does fit the window of the sectional, but at that time we thought it was mostly restricted to Washington,” Frank said. “It didn’t even cross my mind in that moment that we could be impacted, even when we heard about that first case on March 6. There was so much energy in the building for those games. It was fantastic. I was looking forward to seeing what Lawrence North could do in the regional.”

Kay Johnson, the widow of Charles Johnson, has replayed that week over in her mind. Charles, 79, died on March 27 after testing positive for coronavirus. The Johnsons attended the sectional on March 3, 6 and 7. Kay also fell ill with symptoms, but was never officially tested.

“I feel like that’s probably where we got it,” she said. “I could have got it first and passed it to him. Too many have gotten sick who were there. The sad thing is we just didn’t know. We didn’t have the information to go on. It’s unfortunate what has happened to this fan base.”

Another Warren Central fan, Roscoe Taylor III, died on April 5 after testing positive for coronavirus. Taylor’s father, Roscoe Taylor, Jr., died from coronavirus complications on March 29 at age 66. Roscoe Taylor III would have turned 44 on Thursday.

“It was right around March 20 when he started running fevers and feeling sick,” said Taylor’s brother, Damon Taylor. “We were talking to him every day on the phone up until they had to put him on the ventilator.”

Damon Taylor said it is possible his brother could have contracted the virus through his father or vice versa. Roscoe Taylor III was living with his parents. “They got sick around the same time,” he said.

There were others in the building that week who later tested positive. Christopher and Linda Gunn, parents of Lawrence North sophomore C.J. Gunn, did. Shawn Crull, a teacher at Hamilton Southeastern and broadcaster for Indiana SRN, tested positive. Many others exhibited symptoms consistent with coronavirus, but we not tested. Denis Schinderle, a referee working his final sectional, was one of those. Felix Rogers, a videographer for the In the Gym Hoops, was another. There were also players who experienced symptoms.

“It’s hard not to think about it now, looking back,” Cathedral coach Jason Delaney said. “You think about fans screaming and how close everybody was to each other. You start thinking, ‘Man, it was all around us.’ But there was no way of knowing that.”

There is no way of knowing exactly how it spread or where DeSalle, Loggan, Johnson, Taylor and Rush contracted the virus. What we do know is all five were in the same gym on March 6 doing nothing more than watching the best high school basketball doubleheader in the state that night.

“I’ve thought about it hundreds of times,” Good said. “My wife Robin and I talked about it. Those were the most fun games I’ve been part of in a long, long time. That was great basketball for three or four days — a packed gym with nothing but good teams competing and working their butts off. It was great.

“But then you start putting the pieces together… all we know is that this virus has changed a lot of people’s lives.”

Call Star reporter Kyle Neddenriep at (317) 444-6649.

Reporter Matthew VanTryon contributed quotations from Dr. Cole Beeler for this story.

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