COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - One day at a time.
It’s the mantra Frank Martin and his South Carolina Gamecocks men’s basketball team have been following since pausing team activities due to positive COVID-19 cases within the program.
“Anytime we get to get on the court, you practice and compete and try to have the best time we can and enjoy that moment because we’ve been deprived of that for the last month.”
The Gamecocks last saw game action on December 5 and haven’t played a game since. During that time, Carolina has seen five games either canceled or postponed due to the virus.
Recently, the Gamecocks returned to practice in an effort to prepare for their next scheduled game on January 2 against Florida A&M.
“They’re excited because they get on the court,” said Martin, “but there’s this sense of doubt. Can we finally play a game? Can we practice more than one day without getting shut down again? Because that’s what’s happened to us since December 7. As a coach, my job is to uplift and to get guys excited about the present day regardless of what happened yesterday, but when it comes to this, I’m limited to what I can do because it has nothing to do with a bad practice, a bad game, a win, a loss, a bad attitude… it’s got nothing to do with all that stuff.”
Martin said some of the players displayed symptoms while others were asymptomatic, which made it more difficult to manage it in hopes of getting back out onto the floor.
“I’m struggling with how to manage it,” Martin admitted. “I’m struggling with how to get excited about the opportunity to compete when, the day before you’ve got a game, they shut you down. It’s a different animal.”
Martin noted that anyone within the program who tests positive is directed to stay away from family members and other people while they are either isolated or quarantined. That also means practice time is also restricted. Under the university’s policy, any quarantined or isolated student who is caught outside of quarantine or isolation would be suspended for a semester.
Martin said that other teams have also had to deal with outbreaks, but how they’ve dealt with it may be different based on when they actually experienced the outbreak. With that, figuring out what to do next and planning long-term for this team seems to be easier said than done.
“It’s difficult, man,” Martin said. “Heck, our own government [doesn’t] know what’s right. So, am I going to figure out how to handle COVID? I got no idea, man. I’m trying to put two days in a row together.”