The UConn men‚Äôs basketball team, which saw its two games scheduled this week canceled for COVID reasons, didn‚Äôt just have one or two players affected by the virus.
Coach Dan Hurley, who has himself tested positive and is quarantining at home, says some 75 percent of his roster has been impacted.
‚ÄúI think nine (players) either have COVID or are showing symptoms,‚ÄĚ Hurley said on a zoom call with reporters Thursday. ‚ÄúAnd then you have Adama (Sanogo), who is limited but his injury situation.‚ÄĚ
Hurley says the players and staff members who have tested positive are experiencing mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. The coach, too, says he hasn‚Äôt been physically suffering too much.
‚ÄúA couple days of mild symptoms. But with the vaccine and the booster, minus some headaches and some body aches it hasn‚Äôt been that bad physically,‚ÄĚ Hurley said. ‚ÄúObviously pausing again and that feeling of being isolated and away from your team and the season, and your purpose, starts to weigh on you.‚ÄĚ
The mental battle with the Huskies, and their coach, is seemingly more serious than the physical ones.
‚ÄúFor them it‚Äôs a little like ‚ÄėHere we go again‚Äô with the season,‚ÄĚ Hurley said.
Hurley said he started feeling some symptoms on Dec. 23 and that many of the players ‚Äúhave a similar timeline.‚ÄĚ
UConn (10-3, 1-1 Big East) has been idle since Dec. 21. The team has held no practices since.
‚ÄúThe tough part for us is the last time the team has practiced was the 21st,‚ÄĚ Hurley said, noting that the players were given three days off after that for the holiday break. ‚ÄúOn the 25th multiple members of the program, myself included, started testing positive.‚ÄĚ
Hurley says some five or six of his players, all of whom are not showing symptoms and have multiple negative tests, are working out with the coaches who also meet those criteria.
Still, the Huskies‚Äô games against Xavier (Tuesday) and Butler (today) were wiped out by the Big East Conference. The league is attempting to reschedule them.
UConn‚Äôs next regularly scheduled game is Jan. 8 against Seton Hall in Newark, New Jersey. Hurley is hopeful that game is played as scheduled but he‚Äôs also fairly certain not all of his players will be ready to play by then.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôre likely to be without players January 8th. We‚Äôre likely to be without players for the St. John‚Äôs game (Jan. 12) as well,‚ÄĚ Hurley said. ‚ÄúJust because it‚Äôs a staggered thing, the timing of people getting symptoms and getting a positive test is kind of staggered with us. You‚Äôll see players coming back in a staggered fashion.‚ÄĚ
The protocols UConn and other Big East teams are following call for a 10-day period of isolation following a positive test. The CDC recently adjusted its recommendations and now calls for a five-day period instead.
The NFL and some other sports leagues have changed their protocols but most of college basketball has not.
‚ÄúThat 5-day or 10-day window, especially if you‚Äôre without symptoms, when will that kick in?‚ÄĚ Hurley asked, referring to discussions he‚Äôs had with other coaches in the league.
Hurley hopes the current pause the Huskies are on is the only disruption to their season, and he admits telling his players to expect exactly that.
Hurley spent the Christmas holiday and the days since in his home, and admits he‚Äôs likely spread to all of his immediate family.
‚ÄúMy wife, Andrea, I‚Äôd imagine I gave her the COVID. She‚Äôs got it and she isn‚Äôt feeling great. ‚Ä¶ Both my sons, as well, I gave it to them for Christmas,‚ÄĚ Hurley said with a slight laugh.
The coach has been watching lots of film of his team‚Äôs play so far and plenty on the Huskies‚Äô upcoming opponents but admits he‚Äôs extremely anxious to return to Storrs and in-person coaching.
Hurley says he‚Äôs feeling fine now and is ready to return, though he might require a little grooming, first.
‚ÄúI have a beard coming in that doesn‚Äôt look very good,‚ÄĚ Hurley said.