January 7, 2021  Members Only

BIG EAST weekly: Big COVID setbacks

Is it time to bubble up?

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Hey hoops fans!

We know this season especially is ever-changing and as your resident BIG EAST specialist, I thought I’d bring you a weekly digest so you can keep up with all-basketball all the time BIG EAST Conference. I’ll bring you the top news, upcoming matchups, and the talk around the BE Eleven.

UConn vs. Baylor canceled, Mulkey tests positive for COVID

Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma ended yesterday’s media availability with an apology. He apologized to us, the media, for something he had no control over. He apologized for another cancelled game against a ranked opponent.

“Sorry about that, hopefully we get, hopefully we get something going soon. Thanks for your patience, really appreciate it guys.”

Auriemma and the Huskies found out shortly after Tuesday’s practice that they would not be facing off against Baylor on ESPN. The Lady Bears announced that Kim Mulkey tested positive for COVID.

My heart hurts, family.

I’m tired of getting press releases about suspended basketball activities due to positive COVID tests. The first week of January has been difficult as a BIG EAST reporter. Here is a look at my inbox:

Friday, January 1st


Monday, January 4th:


Tuesday, January 5th:



For me, the last email was the final straw. I don’t understand why we are continuing on despite positive tests. I get it, not everyone dies from COVID and we have to live our lives. I get it, we want to have things we look forward to amid a worldwide pandemic. I get it, there is a lot of money in college sports.

I get all of that.

What I don’t get is why we are willing to “soldier on” despite more positive tests and with little to no changes to the approach. Many believe a “bubble” is nearly impossible for college sports. I disagree.

We have long accepted that NCAA “student-athletes” will miss classes and be away from campus while submitting papers and attending class virtually. Now that most schools are holding virtual classes for all students, why can’t each conference bubble up?

Can that be more expensive than the constant cancelations, COVID tests, and medical care for those who contract the virus? IF we must have sports, why not do so as safely as possible?

The NCAA already announced the men’s tournament will be hosted at a single site and it seems to be inevitable that San Antonio will be announced as the single site for WBB. But given all the cancelations, who will realistically make it to the end of the season and how will the top teams be selected?


“They’re not. They’re not going to be able to figure it out. They’re not going to be able to figure out who belongs who doesn’t belong,” said Auriemma on Tuesday.

“It will be like college football … you know the movie Casablanca, when Rick’s Cafe gets you know raided by the by the police just as a show [to] let the Germans know that we’re still in charge here … I think that’s what’s going to happen when it all breaks down. Just round up the usual suspects. Who’s usually in the NCAA? I’ll send a letter saying they’re in.”

Having never watched Casablanca, I’ll have to take Geno’s word on that example. (Editor’s note: we gotta get this fixed in 2021. I’m on it.) Yet I suspect he’s correct (and some argue sports is already skewed in that direction anyway).

Basketball is fun and all, but at the elite level we are far from playing just for love of the game. Women’s college basketball is elite and there are usually trophies, draft implications, and sponsorships on the line for programs and individual players. It’s not as big a pot as almost any other men’s NCAA sport, but it is very real.

So there are certainly things to play for. I guess I just wonder: is it worth it?

#BIGEASTWeekly Awards

And the winners are …

Player of the Week

Olivia Nelson-Ododa, Connecticut, Jr., F

Freshman of the Week

Paige Bueckers, Connecticut, Fr., G

Weekly Honor Roll

Tatum Rembao, Creighton, Sr., G

Darrione Rogers, DePaul, Fr., G

Mya Jackson, Seton Hall, So., G

Yasmin Ott, Georgetown, Fr., G

Kae Satterfield, Xavier, So., G

Written by Erica L. Ayala

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