College fall sports are still completely up in the air, with some programs — like UConn — canceling the football season while other programs vow to play no matter what. As a result, not a lot of thought has drifted ahead to the prospects of winter sports starting on time.
UConn women’s basketball head coach Geno Auriemma offered his take during a zoom call with the media on Monday.
“Once the rest of the country cancels football, then we’ll know there’s no fall sports at all,” Auriemma said. “Then we’ll know there’s no basketball games in the fall, so there won’t be any games in November. And then we can start thinking about January, maybe, or February. Who knows?”
With the COVID-19 pandemic still running rampant in the country, there has been a massive debate about the safety of college athletes playing fall sports this year, specifically college football. If fall sports should be canceled, there is basically no way to expect that winter sports — including basketball — would start on time, given that the two seasons overlap significantly.
Auriemma knows this, and the 11-time National Champion is already expecting a delay to the women’s basketball season.
“It’s just a matter of time, there’s going to be no football,” Auriemma said. “So we know we’ve got September, October, November, and December. We’ve got four months … We’re just taking it one day at a time and one drill at a time.”
“I’m trying to be realistic too,” he added.
Professional sports leagues like the NBA, NHL and UConn-flooded WNBA have been able to play mostly without issue so far in “bubble” atmospheres, with strict protocols and little to no outside contact. The bubble has proved to be the only effective solution to play sports while also keeping the athletes safe and healthy.
There have been speculations of bringing a bubble to college sports, but Auriemma doesn’t see that happening.
“You take the 11 Big East teams and put them in a bubble, could you do that?” Auriemma said. “That’s a lot of people in a bubble that you don’t realize would have to be in there and does that make sense? Team doctors and trainers and managers. People living in a hotel room for three months. I don’t know. Can it happen? Probably, but I don’t see it happening.”
“And then what do you do at the end of the regular season?” Auriemma continued. “You gotta get in another bubble for the NCAA Tournament. Then what do you do, a 64-team bubble? Woo-hoo. Good luck with that.”
The logistics of a bubble for college sports don’t seem feasible at the moment, so it is unclear how college sports can proceed in a safe fashion for everyone.
The players certainly want a season, but right now, they know it is out of their control.
“I’m a little nervous just because of football,” junior Christyn Williams said. “Like UConn is not even having a season anymore, so of course that makes me nervous personally. I just want to have a season. That’s all. I don’t really care whether we have fans or what. I just literally want to have a season.”
“Naturally, I want to hope for the best and that we can start as soon as possible,” junior Olivia Nelson-Ododa added. “But I don’t know much about it … I feel like it’s [on] a day-to-day, week-to-week basis, and so there’s always something new. But I remain hopeful that we’ll have a season.”
Nothing is fully settled yet for sports that were set to start in two weeks, let alone college basketball, which feels like it’s light years away at this point. But November will creep up quickly, and one of the biggest names in the sport of women’s basketball is not anticipating any semblance of a normal season.