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The Syracuse men’s basketball team will leave quarantine Thursday morning, Director of Athletics John Wildhack said in a press conference Tuesday. The announcement comes three days before the team’s first game of the season against Bryant.
The quarantine’s end will allow the team to practice together on Thanksgiving afternoon, Wildhack said. Syracuse paused all activities related to men’s basketball on Sunday after head coach Jim Boeheim and a player tested positive for COVID-19. While Syracuse will be able to reconvene in preparation for the season, Wildhack wasn’t optimistic about the success of a full season occurring as scheduled.
“I think basketball is going to be incredibly challenging,” Wildhack said. “The travel schedule, the fact that this schedule is condensed because the NCAA Tournament is going to be played on the dates as originally scheduled right now, we have the (Atlantic Coast Conference) tournament the week before that, so if we lose games during the season, it’s going to be very hard to make up.”
Wildhack wasn’t concerned with players being ready for the season opener against Bryant because the preseason was “longer than it’s ever been.” Syracuse supplied men’s basketball players with stationary bikes while in quarantine, and Ryan Cabiles, SU basketball’s director of strength and conditioning, has led Zoom workouts with the team.
Basketball programs around the country have shut down their basketball programs for 14 days due to COVID-19, resulting in game cancellations. Tennessee will not play in the Jimmy V Classic due to positive COVID-19 tests, and Baylor canceled its game against Seton Hall, its third cancellation since head coach Scott Drew tested positive.
SU’s football, basketball and hockey teams are tested three times per week, said Brad Pike, associate athletic director for sports medicine.
“The first test happens at the beginning of the week,” Pike said. “The second test, that should happen 72 hours within the game, and then we have a 48-hour test after to make sure that we can contact trace if there’s a positive.”
After sending tests to a lab, Syracuse hears back in 24 hours.
Syracuse was the first ACC program to provide players and staff with Kinexon bracelets, which alert the user if someone is within six feet of them. The bracelet allows Syracuse to track which players they were in contact with if they test positive for COVID-19. While SU was the first ACC program to use the bracelets, the ACC now has an agreement with Kinexon.
Players on both the men’s and women’s basketball teams have individual bracelets so far, Pike said. Coaches will have the bracelets on during games and when in the facility, and officials will wear the bracelets when officiating Syracuse games. SU is also awaiting a second shipment of the bracelets to provide to nonconference opponents to wear.
“This is something similar to what the NBA used in the bubble,” Pike said. “We have actually sent our guys home with these on because we want to see what their home life is like and their interactions in their apartments.”
While Syracuse is dealing with positive COVID-19 tests, Bryant hasn’t had any cases. All nonconference opponents must follow the ACC’s rules of testing players and traveling staff members three times per week. Bryant filed paperwork Tuesday stating that it has followed ACC’s testing rules.
“We put that in the contracts with the teams that we have signed coming in here to play us,” Senior Deputy Athletics Director Herman Frazier said. “In order to play the game with us — in the contract with Syracuse — we have medical information about COVID-19.”
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