With two positive COVID cases, NMSU's hoops pause drags on - Albuquerque Journal

With two positive COVID cases, NMSU’s hoops pause drags on

NMSU coach Chris Jans. (NMSU Athletics)

The college basketball world, like all other walks of life in a pandemic, has seen its share of positive COVID-19 cases.

And several teams have had to “pause” basketball activities as a result when a positive case hits their “Tier 1” group of players, coaches, trainers and anyone else with extensive direct contact with the team.

For the New Mexico State Aggies, one positive case that popped up from testing on Dec. 4 led to a second positive case being found in subsequent testing several days later, the team confirmed Monday. The program remains on a pause that has already led to three games being canceled — two in California and one at Arizona on Saturday — with no definite return to practice or games yet set.

And for a team that is relocated away from home in a hotel in Phoenix due to New Mexico’s public health order, being unable to play, practice or conduct regular team activities can be, well, rather boring.

“The highlights of my day are when I get the text that lunch and dinner are here,” NMSU coach Chris Jans said Monday in his weekly Zoom conference call. “And I don’t want anyone to tell me what the menu is like. Seriously, if they tell me what we’re having for lunch and dinner, I get a little annoyed with them, because that’s what I look forward to, you know? Like, it’s Christmas, and I get up, see what we’re getting to eat that day.”

Jans added he’s also enjoying his coffee lately, he learned to play Connect Four with fellow coaches and, in a move highly unusual for coaches this time of year, he’s actually watched a few college basketball games on television — not with the usual video editing for scouting reports, note taking or any preparation for an upcoming game in mind.

He’s not sure if he likes it, either, acknowledging he has felt anxiety and nerves late in games of teams coached by friends — feelings he never has while coaching in those same tight game scenarios.

But overall, a team on COVID pause, especially one living in a hotel away from its home state, isn’t exactly doing much at all at the moment.

“We don’t do much,” he said. “It is what it is, and, you know, will definitely be a long, long chapter in the book someday.”

NMSU/UNM GAME: For now, NMSU doesn’t have another game scheduled until January when Western Athletic Conference play begins. But the program is definitely trying to get another one, or more, to play, and that includes, Jans hopes, rivalry games with the University of New Mexico and UTEP, though nothing is set for those at the moment.

“Starting today and tomorrow, we’ll probably be more aggressive than we have been in terms of trying to figure out potential days that will work for those type of games,” Jans said. “And that doesn’t change my stance from day one, that they’re critical and important to our program, to our fan base — to theirs as well. … But this pause has certainly made it more difficult.”

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