The Bruins may have to wait a little longer to get back on the court.
Washington had its Thursday night Pac-12 opener against No. 11 Arizona postponed due to COVID-19 protocols, the programs announced Wednesday night. The Huskies are next up on the slate for No. 5 UCLA men's basketball (7-1, 1-0 Pac-12), with the two teams scheduled to face off in Seattle on Sunday at 12 p.m.
That contest is still on the slate for the time being, but things could take a shift as a result of the timeline and extent of the health and safety issues the Huskies are dealing with.
According to a report by the Los Angeles Times on Thursday, seven Washington players and coaches have tested positive for COVID-19. A spokesperson from the athletic department told the LA Times that the program had a 100% vaccination rate and that any positive tests would be considered breakthrough cases, but could not confirm if or how many members of the team had in fact tested positive.
"When it comes to the COVID stuff, pray everybody's OK, hope it just doesn't become a massive problem," said coach Mick Cronin. "It's tough."
It is unclear when these players and coaches contracted COVID-19 and when they took their tests, but Washington played Nevada on Nov. 24 not long before that team met health and safety issues of its own. Wolfpack coach Steve Alford announced he had tested positive for COVID-19 on Nov. 30, and his team has already called off their game against North Texas scheduled for Saturday.
If the string of positive tests were to lead the Pac-12 to cancel or postpone the UCLA-Washington game on Sunday, the Bruins would not compete again until their Dec. 11 road game against Marquette.
"It seems to be becoming a problem – I've seen a lot of NBA guys dealing with it," Cronin said. "It's unfortunate, we all need to be careful, everybody get their extra shot, do everything you can."
UCLA went the entire 2020-2021 season without ever having an internal COVID-19 breakout, and all of its games postponed due to positive tests were on its opponents or the referees' side.
The Bruins' Dec. 23, 2020, game against Oregon was called off just moments before the opening tip-off as a result of a positive case within the officiating crew, and the rematch scheduled for January was pushed back again to March when the Ducks were dealing with positive tests. UCLA's game against Long Beach State was postponed twice as well, and it was never made up.
The Pac-12 said prior to the season that the pre-2020 policy of teams unable to play forfeiting games would make its return for the 2021-2022 campaign, but told Washington and Arizona they would work with the two schools to find a "mutually agreeable" makeup date.
There are limited spots for the Pac-12 to move these early conference games to, though, so midweek contests would likely be necessary if postponement is the path they choose to go down.