COVID-19 testing is top priority for Crossover Classic

Sanford Pentagon will host top college programs this week in fan-free 'bubble'

Bob Huggins talking with the media during a Zoom call on Tuesday. He is wearing a mask and hat with WVU logos and sitting in front of a screen with the Crossover Classic logos.

Teams participating in the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic will be as safe as possible. The tournament will go on. Teams from around the country are going to play basketball in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Beginning on Nov. 25, the Sanford Pentagon will be host to 18 college games involving 12 teams over six days. The event includes both an eight-team field for the men and four teams for the women.

These contests will not include spectators. Sanford Health and tournament officials made the decision to not allow fans earlier this week because of COVID-19 concerns. However, all 12 games in the men’s tournament will be televised on ESPN’s family of networks.

Obviously, pandemic conditions are making it more difficult to put together and coordinate an event involving top basketball programs from around the country. It’s a challenge, however, that the Sanford Health team has been able to meet.

“The safety for the teams is built into our testing protocol,” said Tryg Odney, Sanford Health director of sports medicine outreach.

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Bob Huggins, a prominent figure in college basketball for decades, agreed. The head coach at West Virginia was not exactly clinical in expressing that point during a question-and-answer session with the media on Tuesday, but he was sincere.

“It’s been great here,” Huggins said. “I mean, it’s exactly what we were told it was going to be. We’re in a bubble — it’s just our guys. Our guys were tested, and as expected, they’ve done a great job of taking care of themselves. The facilities here are unbelievable. The people here are great. It’s been, to this point, a really good experience. I think the only thing that would screw it up is if we didn’t win games like we’re supposed to.”

Testing protocol establishes bubble

The “bubble” or, more accurately, “controlled environment” is accomplished via the following protocols for the Crossover Classic:

  • All members of each team’s traveling party must have a negative COVID-19 test within two days of traveling to Sioux Falls.
  • Each member will be tested immediately upon arrival in Sioux Falls, and again on Wednesday and Friday.
  • All members will enter the building using a separate entrance and will only have access to the lower level of the facility.
  • All members will remain in a controlled environment throughout their stay. If any member of the traveling party tests positive for COVID-19, officials will begin contact tracing and the affected individual will be in quarantine.

When teams arrived in town for the Crossover Classic they went directly to the testing center and then waited in their hotel rooms until they had their test results back. Positive tests mean quarantine or isolation. The players are tested again prior to games on Thursday and Friday for the men’s tournament. The same protocol will be followed for the women’s event that begins on Saturday.

“All the teams should have confidence that when they get on the court and compete, COVID-19 is not what they should be concerned about,” Odney said. “They can be comfortable knowing that everybody has followed the same rules regarding testing and interaction with others.”

No pins and needles

Memphis coach Penny Hardaway, a former NBA star who has been coaching the Tigers since 2018, is part of that testing protocol this week for the Crossover Classic. Media asked him on Tuesday if he was worried about participating in the tournament given the presence of the pandemic.

This was his response:

“We’re in a bubble, we really are,” Hardaway said. “We’ve seen the system and how they have everyone sectioned off into their own little area. Everyone is wearing masks. The tournament has done a great job with how they’ve set it up. So we’re not on pins and needles.”

Basketball games are being postponed or canceled across the nation. From Hardaway’s perspective, the overriding sentiment was one of gratitude, not fear, in being able to play games within a safe environment.

“I talked to the guys after practice about how fortunate we are to be here,” Hardaway said. “Nine months ago we were canceling our conference tournament and the NCAA tournament and not knowing if we were going to have a season. To be able to be here right now and be able to play – especially when tournaments around the country are being canceled because of COVID situations — is very fortunate.”

In this instance, getting the opportunity to play safe basketball is enough to warrant a trip to Sioux Falls.

“Their itinerary is laid out for them,” Odney said. “They’re not going to restaurants or sightseeing or going off to the convenience store for snacks. This is a business trip for these teams.”

Schedule of Crossover Classic games

Men’s tournament

Wednesday, Nov. 25 (All times Central)
1 p.m. – Saint Mary’s vs. Memphis (ESPN2)
3:30 p.m. – Western Kentucky vs. Northern Iowa (ESPNU)
6 p.m. – West Virginia vs. South Dakota State (ESPN2)
8:30 p.m. – Utah State vs. Virginia Commonwealth (ESPN2)

Thursday, Nov. 26
11 a.m. – Semifinal No. 1 (ESPN)
1:30 p.m. – Semifinal No. 2 (ESPN)
4 p.m. – Consolation Semifinal No. 1 (ESPN/ESPN2)
6:30 p.m. – Consolation Semifinal No. 2 (ESPN2)

Friday, Nov. 27
12:30 p.m. – Championship (ESPN)
3 p.m. – 5th or 7th place (ESPN2/ESPNU)
5:30 p.m. – 5th or 7th place (ESPN2/ESPNU)
8 p.m. – 3rd place (ESPN2)

Women’s tournament

Saturday, Nov. 28
2:30 p.m. – South Carolina vs. South Dakota
5 p.m. – Oklahoma vs. Gonzaga

Sunday, Nov. 29
2:30 p.m. – Oklahoma vs. South Carolina
5 p.m. – Gonzaga vs. South Dakota

Monday, Nov. 30
2:30 p.m. – South Carolina vs. Gonzaga
5 p.m. South Dakota vs. Oklahoma

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Posted In Basketball, Community, Healthy Living, Orthopedics, Sports Medicine

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