With the NCAA Division 1 Board of Directors approving a Nov. 25 start date for Men’s and Women’s Basketball, the two programs are preparing for their seasons. 

“I was kind of hoping we would play in January, and November was my best case scenario,” senior forward Sierra Campisano said. Campisano earned All-Conference First Team honors for the 2019-20 season.

Women’s Basketball head coach Faith Mimnaugh said that the team is ready to get back on the court.

“I’m excited that it looks like we’re going to get a chance to play, and the girls have been working really hard all summer after we kind of got short changed last spring,” Mimnaugh said. 

The Women’s Basketball season was cut short in March due to COVID-19. The team finished their season winning five of their last seven contests and advanced to the Big West Tournament semifinals. A win in the Big West Tournament Championship would have guaranteed them a spot in the NCAA Tournament. 

Now that a season is looming in the near future, the Women’s Basketball team said they are looking to build off of their success last season, as many of their key players are returning along with some new faces. 

“Our returners are still a little salty about how last season ended, but we are looking to keep that going and to keep getting better everyday,” Campisano said. “We have a good group of freshmen who are ready to go.”

Men’s Basketball head coach John Smith said that his program added a handful of freshmen that are eager to prove themselves on the court. Coming into his second season at the helm, the team could play differently than in seasons past, as Smith’s new recruits mix into the rotation with the returning players.

Senior wing Mark Crowe said these new recruits are an important addition to the team.

“[The freshmen] are essential for turning around our culture,” Crowe said. “It feels good to know that we will have a season.” 

Not only are these two programs battling to stay ahead of their competition, but they have also been battling against the restrictions COVID-19 has presented them with. One ball per player, no passing and split-up groups are some of the precautions that players must deal with.

“With no sharing basketballs, we’ve only had one turnover since March,” Mimnaugh said jokingly.

Both programs have been able to lift weights and work out outside as a whole unit.

However, practicing in the gym poses some challenges for the teams, as the teams are divided into groups. The Women’s Basketball team has been split into two groups: those who live on campus in one group and those who live off campus in another. Men’s Basketball has also split into groups. 

The NCAA is allowing three options that Men’s Basketball can choose from:

  • 24 regular-season games and a multiple-team event playing up to three games
  • 25 regular-season games and a multiple-team event playing up to two games
  • 25 regular-season games and no multiple-team event

Smith said that Men’s Basketball only needs to fill a couple spots on their schedule to fulfill one of these quotas. He added that the likelihood of a Big West bubble — in which players and staff would stay isolated in a certain area to reduce exposure to COVID-19 — is also a possibility.

On the Women’s side, they were given only two formats for scheduling:

  • 23 regular-season games and a multiple-team event playing up to four games
  • 25 regular-season games and no multiple-team events

Mimnaugh said the team is waiting to fill a schedule until after the Big West Conference meets in early October.

Both teams are currently in a transition period until Oct. 13, during which they can participate in strength and conditioning activities, sport related meetings and skill instruction for up to 12 hours per week. Full basketball practices can resume on Oct. 14.

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