So far, it’s been pretty smooth sailing for the Kansas State women’s basketball team when it comes to dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.
In his first press conference of the season Thursday, K-State head coach Jeff Mittie said his team has not been affected to a large extent by the virus at this point in preseason preparations. He did not reveal if any players or staff around the team have had a positive test since the pandemic began.
“We have been remarkably stable until this week with sniffles and sore throats and those kinds of things,” Mittie said. “We really haven’t had players miss practice until this week.”
The problems this week stem from earlier concern over guard Makayla Pippin, who was forced to undergo testing for the virus after she reported symptoms Monday. The testing came back negative.
Mittie and his staff are bracing for more instances like the one Pippin dealt with as the weather turns cooler and cold-like symptoms become more prevalent.
“Here’s what we’re dealing with now and what we’ll deal with later today when it’s supposed to be 80 (degrees) and go down to 30: People wake up with sniffles and a sore throat and we have to be extra cautious,” Mittie said. “Is it COVID? Is it just the normal stuff?
“I just think you’ll see that. It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s COVID, but we are in an abundance of caution. If a player wakes up with a couple of symptoms, we’re going to make sure they don’t have COVID.”
Mittie has used the team’s good fortune in having a fairly consistent roster throughout camp to implement strategy and tactics at a more rapid pace than he would in a normal year.
“We put stuff in two weeks ago that I normally wouldn’t put in until maybe a week before the season,” Mittie said. “In preparation and staff meetings, I told the team we are going to unload a bunch of stuff on you. I know it won’t look good for a while, but it’s my approach to this.
“I’d rather have things in now even if it’s a little sloppy than have four or five players in a normal phase where you might be adding things and four or five players lose that week because of COVID or other reasons and all of a sudden are way behind.”
K-State still waiting on schedule to be released
As of now, Kansas State still is in limbo as to how its schedule will shake out. However, signs are pointing to a fast and furious start for the Wildcats.
According to Mittie, the Big 12 is planning to move two conference games into December. The earlier start to conference play condenses the Wildcats’ non-conference slate.
“That’s going to force us to play nine games in about a period of 28 or 29 days ...” Mittie said. “Right now, if the schedule remains the same, we’ve got six games in 13 days.”
Should the schedule be released without change, Kansas State’s hectic stretch also would come during one of the busiest academic periods of the year.
“In that time frame, you’re also wrapping up finals,” Mittie said. “I met with some academics and our academic people and we’re trying to work, because we know we have a log jam of games as it sits today in December.”