Nine months later, basketball is back ... again

Last week's postponement was like "a throwback to March," but UTSA is in Norman and Lon Kruger's Sooners are ready to finally play a game
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Jalen Hill

Jalen Hill

Lon Kruger said the postponement of last Wednesday’s scheduled season opener against UTSA had a painfully familiar feel.

“Really, a little bit of a throwback to March,” Kruger said. “Where we get up, we’re expected to play a game that night in Kansas City, and then we get word that night that that game was off.

“Little bit of the same situation here. We had met Wednesday morning, learned of the positives, a few moments later determined — in fairness and respect to the UTSA program as well, with contact retracing and everything — it would not be wise to play.”

Eight days later, Kruger and the Sooners got up again with the hopes of playing a basketball game.

UTSA is back in town for a 7 p.m. game at Lloyd Noble Center (Fox Sports Oklahoma) as Oklahoma tries to get back on the floor for the first time in 272 days. And this team needs floor time: there are transfers and freshmen who need to find their roles.

“We’ve not been practicing full speed for a while,” Kruger said, “so everything is still up in the air.

“Hope to find out a lot more about ourselves.”

This isn’t March 12, where fear and uncertainty reigned. Nine months on, cancellations happen because players test positive for COVID-19. Still, the shutdown has taken its toll on everyone.

“They’ve been going since March now without having played,” Kruger said. “It’s tough on ‘em, especially when they’re sitting and watching other people around the country play, and they’re not able to.”

Kruger said the team went from July to November without a positive COVID result, and it’s been chaotic ever since.

“Yeah, you realize how disruptive it is, how much it changes everyone’s routine, changes the schedule,” he said. “Yeah, you absolutely think about it more and hold your breath (before a test) a little bit more.

“When it happens to you, it takes on a little different hit.”

UTSA has played twice since last week’s postponement was announced, while the Sooners still haven’t played. And then all the preseason work and practice and build-up, only to have to go through a complete shutdown instead of playing games — that was the icing on top of this 2020 cake.

“They’ve handled it very well,” Kruger said. “Disappointed and frustrated. Would rather be out there. But understand what the situation is with COVID if you’ve got positives and contact tracing.

“So it was disappointing for the guys for sure, to be out of practice for a while and not knowing when we could get back even after that, it was tough on the guys, too.”

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