Oregon State men’s basketball will get back in its practice facility for team workouts Monday, the first day such activity is permitted by the NCAA.
The program is making safety as a priority as college teams try to resume on-campus activities during the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s going to be different, but the one thing we want to do is really follow all those protocols so we don’t lose the privilege of being in the gym together,” coach Wayne Tinkle said.
All but two players are back on campus. They are traveling to Corvallis this weekend, and after quarantine time, virus testing and regular physicals they’re expected to be back with the team in seven to 10 days.
Tinkle anticipates the first few weeks of workouts will be individual shooting, ballhandling and fundamental skill work.
For the immediate future, there will be no activity involving contact, no 1-on-1 drills and social distancing that limits close interactions. Players that live together can be at the same basket; otherwise, players at the same basket must wear masks.
Away from the court, coaches have had to change their daily routines, particularly in recruiting, with a dead period extended through the end of August that doesn’t allow coaches to travel or have potential recruits on campus.
Oregon State signed four players this spring, a process done primarily with phone calls and video conferencing. Current recruiting efforts have included more virtual conversations.
Coaches have been watching summer basketball events involving potential recruits online as well as viewing other game film.
Tinkle credited his staff with giving recruits virtual tours around campus and of the basketball facilities.
“Like everybody else, finding a way to make sure that we’re taking care of business, the coach said.
With uncertainty and an ever-changing situation surrounding the pandemic, OSU’s coaches are preparing for the upcoming season as usual.
“We’re holding out hopes that we’ll start on time and have a regular preseason,” Tinkle said.
But like coaches around the country, Tinkle and his staff are trying to prepare for any number of scenarios. That included the possibility of having no nonconference games or starting Pac-12 Conference games earlier or later than normal.
The conference’s head coaches have been meeting virtually every two weeks in an effort to stay up to date and prepare for whatever might happen next.
In the nonconference, Oregon State is slated to play Iowa in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, make a trip to Iowa State to finish a home-and-home series that saw the Cyclones play in Corvallis last season and play three games at a Cayman Islands tournament.
The tournament, Nov. 23-25, also includes Kansas State, La Salle, Miami, Nevada, Northern Iowa, Mississippi and Western Kentucky.
Iowa finished last season 20-11 and was 25th in the final Associated Press poll. Tinkle said the Dec. 22 game, being roughly 400 miles from the Iowa City campus, will essentially be a home game for the Hawkeyes.
“It’s going to be a real test for our young group. We wanted to be tested for the tough competition we’re going to see in the Pac-12.”
Tinkle said his team “slipped a little bit academically” following the conference tournament, which the coach blames on the disappointment of the season ending so suddenly.
But he says the players bounced back well and all are in good academic standing.
On their own, several OSU players have taken the opportunity to voice an opinion on the world around them. They’ve spoken out on social media and other platforms about racial injustice and the Black Lives Matter movement.
The pandemic hasn’t provided a pause button for the players as they try to maintain their school work while staying in top shape for their sport and taking in the drastically changing environment around them.
“Really proud of the way our guys have persevered,” Tinkle said.