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UVM men’s hoop returns from COVID pause

Cats season was originally set to begin with three non-conference games Sunday thru Tuesday at Mohegan Sun
Published: Dec. 1, 2020 at 8:55 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The UVM men’s basketball team is back to training. Both the Vermont men’s and women’s hoop teams had to pause activities in mid-November following a pair of positive coronavirus tests. That announcement came just days after UVM announced it was pushing back the start of it’s winter sports seasons to December 18th, in part in response to the rising COVID numbers throughout the state.

The men’s basketball team was supposed to open it’s season at the Mohegan Sun resort in Connecticut, taking part in ‘Bubbleville’, a closed environment where the Cats were scheduled to play a trio of non-conference games between Sunday and Tuesday.

Head coach John Becker says telling his team that those games would be canceled led to some mixed emotions.

“I think there was a lot of anxiety among our players about potentially going down to Mohegan Sun with 40 other teams there and how that was going to work.”, says Becker. “But there were mixed emotions because we want to play and we’ve been here a long time and training and it’s for the opportunity to play games. But they (the players) don’t wanna be sick, they don’t want to be quarantined or self isolated. Our guys have done an amazing job adhering to the protocols but, as compliant as you are, it’s still an airborne virus and we have not been immune to testing positive.”

Those three canceled non-conference games were not only going to be opportunities to play, but also a chance to bank some games prior to the start of America East play. Coach Becker says teams have to play a minimum of twelve games this season to be eligible for the NCAA Tournament.

Vermont is scheduled to play 18 conference games, but as with everything related to the dealing with the pandemic, that could change quickly, setting up a scenario that even if UVM goes unbeaten, even just a handful of positive tests over the course of the season could be enough to force the Cats to have to sit on the sidelines come March.

“The other big challenge for us is getting to the 12 game minimum that you need to make the (NCAA) tournament. We have 18 games, if we test positive once during the season that will probably be at least two weekends that we’ll be down. That’s four games right there, so now we’re down to 14 games.”, says Becker.

“If other teams start to test positive and our games get canceled because of their positive test...I don’t know how it’s exactly going to play out. But there’s, unfortunately, a potential where we don’t make that minimum of 12 games. Obviously it’s something we can’t control and since we can’t control it, we’re trying to do our best not to worry about it.”

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