Hornets preparing for Thanksgiving Day start

Mason Smith, Sports and Intramurals Editor

Montgomery, ALA.- When the fall semester started, the idea of collegiate basketball being played before the spring seemed far-fetched, and Alabama State University’s men’s team was operating in limbo.

Then, the NCAA Division I council delivered the news in the middle of September: college basketball will begin on Nov 25, and practices as soon as Oct 14. Some clarity was finally provided, and a though few questions were answered, including the start dates for college hoops’ most heralded tournaments, like the Wooden Legacy tournament, it was confirmed that the Maui Invitational will be played in Asheville, N.C.

Senior forward Tyrese Robinson seemed enthused to finally have a start date for the season.

“I’m happy to play,” Robinson said. “It sucks to have a shortened season and less non-conference games, but I’m happy to have a season.”

COVID- 19 has also caused great stress for athletes in their offseason training. In the early months of the pandemic, gyms and weight rooms were closed, and rims were removed from outdoor courts to assist with safety guidelines and social distancing. All of the restrictions made it difficult for many athletes, including Robinson, who, in terms of offseason training, only completed “limited workouts” and had “no summer.”

Few aspects of college basketball, and sports in general, are impacted more than the first-year players, whether that’s freshmen who were in high school the previous year or student-athletes who just transferred to a new school.

When I asked Robinson how the newest Hornets were adjusting to Division I, he explained that they were adjusting well, considering this semester is their only experience in the environment.

“This is all that they know,” he pointed out, so by comparison, while others experienced what a regular offseason looks like, this is “normal” to them.

One thing that remains in question with NCAA basketball is the policy on attendance. Will we see limited attendance similar to NCAA football, or games played with no fans like the NBA and NFL? Robinson, a Pennsylvania native, wasn’t fond of the possibility of no fans, but he said that he is “hoping we can have fans, but if not, I understand.”

A lot of details are yet to be worked out, and COVID-19 is still unpredictable. With that being said, the NCAA approving a start time for college basketball gives hope during a saddening year, and it is a good sign of the country returning some semblance of normalcy. The monitoring of sports and how they are moving forward will continue as it moves closer to Thanksgiving and beyond. Check back in for the latest news and updates regarding this and other areas of sports.