PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — College basketball season is underway.
And everyone is trying to play defense against COVID-19.
“This year, I’ve said it many times already, the winner of the Big Ten is probably going to be the one that handles COVID the best and gets a little bit lucky,” said Illinois coach Brad Underwood.
Underwood’s Illini will likely be a preseason top ten pick after guard Ayo Dosunmu and center Kofi Cokburn pulled their names out of the NBA draft to return to school. Now the coach just wants to keep his players on the floor and out of quarantine.
” If you’re out three weeks doing nothing, think about how long it takes you to come back,” Undewood said.
Bradley’s Brian Wardle said his first practice of the year went smoothly Wednesday and featured “a lot of fundamentals.” But it also featured one of the most used terms of 2020, social distancing.
“Each guy has their bin with their towel, their water and their hand sanitizer. Their chairs are social-distanced all around the gym,” Wardle explained. “That’s how we have it with our players. We are trying to social distance and be over six feet away as much as possible, even during the practice.”
Bradley is close to finalizing its non-conference schedule, Wardle said. He has room for one more opponent and is trying to work out to a deal to play Missouri.
Illinois State’s first practice of the season was sloppy, according to Dan Muller. He attributed that to having eight newcomers and to a disjointed summer practice schedule with players in and out of town.
He also acknowledged dealing with the coronavirus will be a key to having a good season.
“I told the guys, ‘Hey, we may have a day when we are supposed to go to a game and our bus driver gets COVID and we don’t have a bus that day and we have to go the next day.'” Muller said. “Anything can happen.”
Muller said his non-conference is nearly complete and it will likely be released in the next week with eight opponents. Games can begin Nov. 25.