The Gonzaga University men’s basketball team certainly drew attention last week.
The Spokane-based Bulldogs, the state’s most prominent college basketball program and ranked No. 1 in the nation in the Associated Press preseason poll, justified those rankings in a big way. The Zags opened the season with two games against major-conference foes while playing at the Fort Myers Tip-Off in Fort Myers, Florida. On Thursday Gonzaga went wild offensively against No. 6 Kansas, putting up triple digits in a 102-90 victory. The next day the Bulldogs ripped Auburn 90-67.
Leading the way was Edmonds native Corey Kispert. The senior small forward and preseason All-American, who was The Herald’s Boys Basketball Player of the Year in 2016 while at King’s High School, scored 23 points against Kansas and 25 against Auburn, draining seven 3-pointers in the process. Kispert was far from the only Zag to impress, as sophomore power forward Drew Timme blew up for 53 points and 16 rebounds in the two games, while freshman point guard Jalen Suggs tallied 36 points and 14 assists. The Zags looked like a juggernaut.
But Gonzaga drew attention for another reason, too. Should the Auburn game even have been played, as it took place despite the Bulldogs having positive tests for coronavirus in their camp?
First, Gonzaga had a member of its traveling party who wasn’t a player test positive for COVID-19 prior to the Kansas game. Then after the game the Zags had a player test positive. That player was held out of the Auburn game, as was a second player who was in close contact with the player who tested positive.
Should that second game have taken place? Especially considering the dramatic rise in cases, hospitalizations and deaths the United States is currently experiencing.
Our daily update is published. Our testing, case, and death statistics continue to be affected by the Thanksgiving holiday. Hospitalizations are less affected by the data slowdown and are at the record-high level of 93,238. pic.twitter.com/LVZnxVme4p
— The COVID Tracking Project (@COVID19Tracking) November 30, 2020
We’ve seen other college basketball programs shut down and isolate following positive tests within their program. That said, the NCAA hasn’t instituted a nationwide policy regarding positive tests, meaning teams so far have been allowed to set their own standards.
“It’s just kind of how the preseason has went,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said after the Auburn game. “You just wait to get the news on testing and then you have to react and you have to stay agile. We followed the COVID protocols of the tournament, the Florida Health Board down here, they’ve all been great, it’s a been very professional, our guys have been incredibly diligent about following all the rules. We’re taking PCR tests, to gold standard, we react to whatever happens after the tests. I think it’s going to be like that all year.”
— Keith Osso (@OssoKXLY) November 27, 2020
Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said: “Both medical teams got together and felt like whatever testing protocols we had, that Gonzaga had tested their players and the guys that were on the floor did not have COVID. We tested also, so you just do the best you can, and I’m glad we worked together and got the game in, and I hope nobody gets infected by it.”
What do you think? Are you OK with the Gonzaga-Auburn game being played? Vote here: