Navy college basketball leagues return amid COVID-19
Paradise Island Kimani Lawrence and his teammates at Arizona State have been eager to take it all in as they arrive at the men’s college basketball tournament which has been among the things that have been disrupted amid the COVID-19 pandemic in the past 18 months.
Just being here counts, both for the eight teams in this week’s prestigious Battle 4 Atlantis and for the sport that has made it a tradition to play early season matches outside of the US mainland.
It’s an important step as many of the events in this Caribbean nation of about 700 islands return to the Challenge of Cancun in Mexico and Paradise Jam in the US Virgin Islands.
“A year ago, I didn’t think we’d be able to come back here as quickly as we have,” said Lawrence, whose team has dealt with multiple layoffs and cancellations due to the pandemic.
Now players at Atlantis are hitting the waterslides, lounging by the resort’s many pools and heading to restaurants after a year of players largely confined to hotel rooms — separated from each other during meals, and even — on state-side road trips and during the NCAA bubbling tournaments in Indiana. and Texas.
“In the past year, a large number of children have been transferred because they were isolated, and they were depressed,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl told The Associated Press on Tuesday. “They were just students, they wanted to go to class, they wanted to interact socially, they wanted to be able to travel and play in front of the fans.
“So we survived that. And hopefully now this year, we are in a much more normal situation and the student-athletes are the ones who will benefit the most from it.”
Battle 4 Atlantis kicks off Wednesday with the sixth seed Baylor, the reigning national champion, the 19th seed Pearl Tigers and the 22nd Connecticut Tigers. It’s returning from the hiatus of 2020 for its 10th edition, starting two days after inaugural Women’s Battle 4 Atlantis won a 1v2 match between South Carolina and Ocon.
There are also events at the nearby Baha Mar Resort in Nassau, women’s themed games that include No. 2 Maryland, No. 4 Indiana, No. 5 North Carolina, and No. 7 Stanford. And Arizona State 10 begins with a Thanksgiving Day game in the Women’s Paradise Jam.
“It’s an incredible experience of team bonding,” Bears coach Scott Drew told The Associated Press. “There’s something to be said for when you leave the US and then you’re in the Bahamas or wherever…you get closer to each other, you spend more time together. But obviously you’re experiencing things you wouldn’t normally experience.”
However, things did not fully return to normal. Maui Invitational in Hawaii offers a reminder; This tradition-rich tournament will take place in Las Vegas this week after it was held in Asheville, North Carolina last year due to COVID-19 concerns.
Walker Kessler was a freshman at the University of North Carolina last year when the Tar Hills Maui trip ended up being a makeshift trip into the mountains. Now he is here in the Bahamas as a shift with Auburn.
“Going on this trip has been so much fun: to be able to fly, to go with your teammates and stay in the hotel, to be in a place like this and championship like this,” Kessler said, adding, “We’re great, really excited about some normalcy for sure. “
Visitors entering the Bahamas have had to test negative for COVID-19, and teams have to wear masks when indoors at the Atlantis resort. Leah Miller Touli, founder and director of the Atlantis Championships, said she has been in direct contact with the 16 main coaches of the two tournaments about safety protocols for resuming an event and starting another.
This included Atlantis president and general manager Audrey Oswell as well, saying there was “certain confidence” even as she admitted she was feeling anxious.
currently? Miller-Tolle said people are “excited to get their passports stamped”.
“There is a risk in everything, but the reward so far outweighs the risks,” Miller Tooley said. “We felt and still do, with the men’s teams joining this week, we feel very confident about the protocols in place and everything we’ve done to ensure safety and planning.”
The completion of the women’s tournament somewhat provided glimpses of normalcy.
Oklahoma team Swim with dolphins. The 15th Oregon players caught some sun at one of the many pools on the resort grounds. Teams gathered in the lobby of their hotel tower to walk to the Imperial Arena, passing masked resort guests on the shop-lined path to training and games.
Gamecocks trainer Dawn Staley, whose top-ranked team won the title, was walking her dog Champ around the marina and shyly admitted to doing some shopping. Huskies coach Geno Auriemma said he wouldn’t hesitate to “take advantage of all their hospitality” given his vaccination status. And there was quite a stir in the arena for the Gamecocks-Huskies title tilt.
The hope is that it is just beginning to come back from the pandemic.
“There’s no reason to come to the Bahamas if you’re not going to enjoy the Bahamas,” Sedona Prince, the duck striker, told The Associated Press. “So we were able to do things and just kind of come out as a team, take pictures and videos and memories. … They put the tournament here for the players, the family and the coaches to enjoy. So yeah, we did.”
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