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Can college basketball season be played? Saint Francis coach Rob Krimmel addresses issues

Photo by Saint Francis University: Men's basketball coach Rob Krimmel

The Ivy League canceled winter sports on Thursday, meaning the league will not be playing men’s and women’s basketball this season.

That’s a potentially crushing blow to college basketball fans, since it could be the first domino to fall and lead to other Division I conferences to cancel their seasons, as well.

Saint Francis men’s basketball coach Rob Krimmel was a guest on “Sports Central with Cory Giger” this week and discussed his excitement for the upcoming season, which is scheduled to begin Nov. 25.

Will there be challenges this season? What kinds of things need to happen in order for teams to play?

Krimmel gave a lot of good insight into what we can expect. You can listen to the interview here:

Q: What does this season look like? Do we know when you open yet? Do you have a conference schedule that is that is determined yet, or are we still waiting on some things?

A: “I can tell you one thing for sure — we practice today. OK, I can tell you that definitively. After that I don’t know that I can say anything with 100 percent certainty, as I could have said in the past. If everything had held true, we would just be coming off a game at Butler. We were scheduled to play them (Tuesday) if the season had started as it normally would. But right now we’re still working out the details of our non-conference schedule. A lot of those contracts, working through the logistics of testing, making sure the dates are all good, all the legalities that go into a normal contract, obviously has been changed as a result of COVID. Our conference schedule is in the works, and we hope to have something here within the next few days. I know we’ve had substantive some discussions about it and, we’ve gone through several drafts of it to make sure obviously that the health and safety of the kids and the people involved there are taken into consideration. Obviously there will be travel and all of those things that go into putting a conference schedule together.”

Q: You can start as early as Nov. 25. Are you hoping to start on that date, and are we to a point where the details will be finalized soon?

A: “We’re planning on playing (that day). I don’t say we’re scheduled yet; we’re planning on playing on the 25th. We have some games right after that as we as we go into the Thanksgiving holiday, and then the calendar turns to December. But but in terms of, can we get there, I think we’re going to go down to the 11th hour. I still think that there are a lot of details that are (to be determined). … As we prepare for the 25th, we’re ready and then we’re going as if we’re going to play on the 25th. But again, a lot of those details are still being worked out. … We’re practicing and we’re preparing for something — the date has been set — and we’ve asked our guys to be flexible, to be disciplined, and they’ve been doing both of those things pretty well over the course of the last couple of months. … I’m still cautiously optimistic that we’re going to pull it off, understanding that there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done to make it happen.”

Q: Do you have the daily testing at Saint Francis?

A: “We’re building up to that daily (testing) at this point. Once we get to the games, it will be the testing several times a week leading into it.”

Q: You can do everything you can to try and prevent the virus from spreading within your team. But if an opponent gets it, how does that impact everything?

A: “We can only control so much. … So much of (the players’) time is spent away from us, and there is an individual responsibility, teaching them good habits. … There are other teams involved. … If we can do what we can to put ourselves in the best position to be in practice today, or to have a game tomorrow, whatever it is, those are the things we can control. We can’t really control what everybody else is doing. And that’s a hard thing to grasp at times.”

Q: We’re seeing college football being played at the highest levels, because it has to be played for money reasons and finances and games are on TV and this creates a lot of money. And that is certainly the case at the top levels of men’s college basketball, as well. You are a mid major, and your games, typically are not televised with a few exceptions per year. What will college basketball look like this year — at the top levels where there’s so much money involved, and at the mid-major and lower levels where it might be easier to postpone or cancel games.

A: “As a coach at a lower level, you know those are things that cross your mind. I think the one thing that the big boys have right now that we don’t, is that they’ve got an experience, meaning that they’ve gone through football, they’ve gone through protocols, they’ve gone through testing. Most schools at our level outside of the power five haven’t had to deal with that. You understand the protocol, when someone goes through it right you understand what happens next when someone goes through it. And for those, the big boys, the power five, they’ve had that experience. They know what it’s like to try to maneuver a schedule and postpone a game or how to conduct the travel or how to do the testing to make sure that everybody’s health and safety is is a priority. … Yes, money is a part of the regular season with TV contracts and with individual games and maybe the Big Ten Network and the ACC Network. But I think looking at long term and getting to March Madness, where a large percentage of the NCAA revenue we generate is in one month, so I think as we go through this because our season is so long, there might be some bumps in the road early, that there might be some things that we’ve got to work through, however, knowing that we got a couple months in front of us to get to March.

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Cory Giger is a 15-year veteran of the Penn State beat and a journalist with 28 years of experience. He has won more than 100 state and national journalism awards during his career, plus he's a voter for the Heisman Trophy in football and Wooden Award in basketball.

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