By the time Penn State men’s basketball hits the court on Wednesday night to face Illinois, it won’t have played a game in 10 days coming off a late last minute loss to Michigan in Ann Arbor.
And of course this isn’t always a bad thing. Teams often spend more time traveling and playing than they do practicing, and with the Big Ten schedule set to unfold in the coming weeks, working on yourself isn’t the worst way to spend some time.
That said, nothing beats playing an actual opponent in an actual game. And Penn State nearly did just that this past weekend according to coach Jim Ferry.
‘We tried extremely hard,’ Ferry said of scheduling a game for this past weekend. ‘What made it difficult, it was finals week. Okay, that made it really difficult because we’re not playing during finals week, obviously, let the guys focus. So I had worked and we had gotten a team that was committed to playing. We’re going to have a game on Saturday.’
Of course the flexibility of a COVID-19 world brings both the good and the bad. Teams have more options when it comes to the fluidity of scheduling out of conference games, but that also means abiding by school, conference and state health and safety regulations.
That’s where things get tricky.
‘I got the call at around 11 at night, they said in the end, the administration just didn’t want them to stay in hotels the night before. And you know, the way we have our testing protocols, you have to test the day before and the day of, so in the last minute, it kind of fell apart – literally the last hour it fell through.’
While not all entirely important – for the sake of quenching any mysteries, the Nittany Lions were in talks with St Francis out of New York according to a program source.
With that game no longer in the making, Ferry and his team got back to the same thing they had been doing the week prior and what has become so common in 2020. Keeping to yourself.
‘It was disappointing,’ Ferry said. ‘It just shows it’s just really hard. It’s really, really hard to do with everybody’s different rules and protocols and open dates. So we’re disappointed but you know, we moved on, we actually scrimmage ourselves a lot on Saturday.’
The Nittany Lions will instead face No. 18 Illinois on Wednesday at 6:30, a slightly different – and much more difficult opponent. In a similar vein, it’s unknown at this time if Penn State previously technically postponed season-opener against Drexel would in fact rescheduled.