When the Pac-12 announced to relaunch the college football season on Thursday, that wasn’t the only topic on its agenda. The conference also voted to move men’s and women’s basketball start dates from the first of next year to Nov. 25 with a reduced schedule.
Arizona and the rest of the conference will have nine weeks to revamp its schedules and vote on how many conference games to play this season.
Friday afternoon, the local media had a chance to talk with Arizona women’s basketball coach Adia Barnes about the upcoming season and what goes into preparing for a season that has been shortened.
Here’s the top three things said by coach Barnes during Friday’s press conference.
Q: What has this past week been like for you?
AB: I was pretty optimistic. I thought we were going to be able to play. But a lot has changed in a week for sure. But I’m just so excited that we’re actually going to go play, we have a date. I’m just excited that we have a definitive date. We know we’re playing and it’s not just like, “Oh, we think we’re gonna play.” I think it’s mentally for the players, it’s important. I mean, we’re motivated, we’re working hard in practice. I’ve been there in like, two days. But I’m there, watching practice, they’re excited, motivated. But the problem is right now, we just don’t have a lot of answers. We had a Pac-12 call this morning at 7. We still have to vote on the amount of conference games. So before we were at 18. So we’ll probably vote on this, for sure. We’re gonna see some models by Tuesday. But do we go to 20 conference games? Or do we go to 22? So we still don’t know, which is hard, how many non-conference games to get.
Q: What is your optimism level for possibly having fans in small capacity? During the second half of the season?
AB: I’m optimistic about it. I just don’t know if it’s staying the way it is now, I saw today 300,000 deaths? I think for me, the hard thing is I don’t know, if our testing is accurate or not, I’m not saying in the Pac-12. I’m saying in the country, is that accurate? I don’t really know. Is there a vaccine at that point? Is everybody accessible to it? That’s the kind of stuff I have no idea, if it’s political, and there’s a vaccine right after the election, it’d be awesome. Because then I think we’ll have fans for sure in January. So I think it’s gonna depend on a lot. Even if we had 5,000 fans spread out, I think that’s awesome, just for the environment for us is a huge advantage here. But I just don’t know, what that looks like, are athletes gonna get the vaccine first? I don’t know. I am pretty optimistic because I think one’s gonna come even if it comes in November, December. I think this year, as a school, we have to be more aggressive, like with flu shots, because everything’s going to be treated like COVID. So the flu shots are going to be really important for travel, just all those little things.
Q: What’s the status of the Texas and Gonzaga games?
AB: The challenging part for us is so right. When we were told we don’t play until January, we sent an email out to all our non-conference opponents. I think Gonzaga is still interested. We also don’t want to go from starting conference and playing like five ranked teams right there. And then going into a 22 game, or a 20 game gauntlet of the PAC 12. So I think being strategic about that, which I’ll know more next week, because if I know how many conference games that’s going to determine, and I’m going to try to stay home more, we still have guaranteed games.
Here’s a clip from Friday’s press conference with coach Barnes:
FOLLOW TROY HUTCHISON ON TWITTER!
ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com writer Troy Hutchison hails from Tucson and is a lifelong Arizona Wildcats follower. He has been involved in sports journalism over the last two years while taking communications courses at Pima Community College.