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Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim on Friday expressed optimism that his team will play the season-opener against Bryant on Nov. 27.
SU will be “ready to play” Bryant next Friday, Boeheim said in an interview with Syracuse.com. SU Athletics paused all basketball-related activities Sunday after Boeheim and a player tested positive for COVID-19. Boeheim told Syracuse.com he’s feeling completely healthy.
“Our players are fine,” Boeheim said. “They’re in great shape.”
Boeheim began isolation days before he announced he’d tested positive, and he exited his quarantine period Friday after 10 days. His symptoms were similar to typical seasonal allergies, including slight fatigue and a stuffy nose, he said.
County Executive Ryan McMahon said Thursday that the county is comfortable with SU hosting Bryant, but it’s unclear whether New York state or the Atlantic Coast Conference would need to approve the game taking place, Syracuse.com reported.
Members of the men’s basketball program have been in quarantine since the two positive cases were reported Sunday. There have been no new cases confirmed within the program. On SU’s campus, there are currently 228 active cases and 595 students in quarantine.
The program remains paused as of Friday afternoon. Dozens of Division I programs have also paused recently, including Massachusetts, Creighton, Loyola-Chicago, Seton Hall, Albany and Niagara. It’s unclear when SU can return to practice.
“We are working closely with the County and the NYS Department of Health to take the appropriate steps to safely resume basketball-related activities in a manner that prioritizes the health and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and broader campus and Syracuse communities,” SU said in a statement.
Syracuse adopted several safety measures while practicing, distancing players during warmups and keeping coaches at least 10 feet away from players. Athletes also wore wristbands that tracked how long they came into contact with one another. But playing college basketball during a pandemic — especially as the virus hits record levels ahead of the holiday season — was always going to be a challenge. Boeheim’s positive test underscored how fragile the 2020 season is.
“This year is going to be like no other,” Boeheim told Syracuse.com. “It’ll be game day, the day before a game and we’ll be wondering probably a little bit whether we’re gonna play.”