December 9, 2020 

COVID-19: VanDerveer and La Rocque’s relationship a potential season-saver for Stanford

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A new week in women’s college basketball has brought a slew of new cancelations

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Photo credit: Stanford Athletics

How the Stanford and UNLV partnership came to be

When Tara VanDerveer and her Stanford team quickly needed a place to play following the announcement of a temporary ban on contact sports in Santa Clara County, she called her former player and current UNLV head coach Lindy La Rocque with a proposition: Stanford and UNLV playing each other in Las Vegas.

La Rocque quickly agreed to the game, but it’s what happened after that may have saved Stanford’s season. After discussions that involved La Rocque, UNLV administration, the president, athletic director, and more, UNLV offered Stanford a place to stay and play games while waiting out the temporary ban that is scheduled to end on Dec. 21.

Although La Rocque was the one who helped set up the game between her Lady Rebels and the Cardinal, it was the higher-ups who OK’d the extended hospitality.

“I just really have to credit our university, our president, the provost, all of the administration, our athletic director,” La Rocque said. “Especially for their willingness. You know, I had no say in it. I might have been a small connection, but the plans and all of that had to be approved by people in much higher power and standing than I am.”

Now, with Stanford playing in Las Vegas, VanDerveer has a chance to break the all-time women’s basketball wins record in the same arena that her former player and assistant coach now roams the sidelines in.

“I would love for that,” La Rocque said. “I’m all for Tara continuing to break the ceilings of things that are in the record books. So if it’s here in Vegas, I would do everything that I could to help make it such a great celebration for such a huge milestone.”

Bubbleville testing key to safe play

The Mohegan Sun’s 10-day stretch of men’s and women’s college basketball games, which came to be known as “Bubbleville” may provide a peek into the future of COVID-19 testing for college basketball programs.

A new form of testing was conducted in Bubbleville, with Mirimus Inc. pioneering its SalivaClear testing platform. Nearly 2,000 SalivaClear tests were conducted during the 10-day event, and the tests produced results in less than 24 hours. The timely and accurate process is key to any potential of a sustained college basketball season, as constant mass travel requires a quick and accurate turnaround on test results.

Mirimus’ SalivaClear platform uses saliva-based sampling, pooled testing, and “gold standard” PCR molecular diagnostics that, according to Mirimus, enables “frequent, high-quality, high-throughput, low-cost detection” of the coronavirus.

Although significantly easier to implement the new SalivaClear testing method in a singular concentrated location such as Bubbleville, the possibility of mass, countrywide SalivaClear testing for college basketball players is a huge beacon of hope for a sport that has been seemingly dangling on the edge of disaster since the season started.

Seton Hall may be back, but Tony Bozzella isn’t

Seton Hall put its women’s basketball program on pause on Nov. 20 following the positive coronavirus test results of three coaches and several players. Five games were canceled or postponed as the Pirates were forced to halt activities for 14 days.

The Pirates returned to practice late last week, but with a notable absence. Head coach Tony Bozzella, one of the coaches who tested positive for the coronavirus, has yet to return to the team. Despite testing positive over two weeks ago, Bozzella is still experiencing symptoms of the virus, and as such, is not allowed to be back with the team yet.

In Bozzella’s absence, longtime top assistant Lauren DeFalco is taking over interim head coaching duties. Under DeFalco, Seton Hall won its season opener on Tuesday, thrashing Saint Peter’s 107-60. The Pirates have two more non-conference games before their conference opener against UConn on Dec. 17.

COVID-19 can affect anyone

There’s a common misconception in the country that just because COVID-19 has a low chance of fatality for young, healthy individuals, that contracting the virus is no big deal for college athletes. That’s not the case.

After contracting COVID-19 earlier in the season, Vanderbilt guard Demi Washington announced Monday on Twitter that she would be out for the season following a myocarditis diagnosis stemming from COVID-19.

A young woman at the peak of athletic health, Washington is the lowest of the low on the totem pole of those most likely to be affected by COVID-19, yet she was still diagnosed with a severe heart condition due to the disease. The virus can severely affect anyone, and when programs halt activities for 14 days due to positive tests, there’s a reason for it.

Cancellations and postponements not slowing down anytime soon

A new week in women’s college basketball has brought a slew of new cancelations. As the COVID-19 virus continues to rage throughout the country, programs are having to temporarily shut down and/or cancel games daily.

Tuesday brought the most game casualties of the season so far, with 14 different games forced to cancel or postpone, including games for No. 1 Stanford, No. 8 Oregon, No. 11 UCLA, and No. 14 Maryland.

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