Last time we checked, between the two of us, we have 20 fingers and 20 toes and that’s going to make it difficult to be productive this week. Not because of the upcoming holiday, but because we’ll have all those fingers and toes crossed in reaction to the recently-released Long Beach State basketball schedules.
Both the school’s men’s and women’s teams unveiled the (please) 2020-21 schedules, which would be (please, please) the first official school sports in the city since March 13, when the university and the Long Beach Unified School District followed the rest of the country in shutting its teams down.
The men are set to begin first, with a road game at UCLA on Nov. 30. Their first game in the Walter Pyramid would be Dec. 6 against Seattle U. The women would begin against William Jessup in the Pyramid on Dec. 7.
The Big West has set up a schedule it’s hoping will allow teams to be flexible, with condensed back-to-backs cutting travel in half. For example, instead of one home game at Long Beach State and one road game at UC Irvine later in the season, the Beach and Anteaters would play on back-to-back nights in the same location.
If (knock wood) we can get an entire season in, the Big West Tournament will be held March 10-13 in Anaheim.
Now, the reason we have to keep our fingers crossed. The COVID-19 pandemic is surging again and threatens sports as much as it threatens everything else. The Long Beach State teams have been in pods with limited to no outside contact, and have been regularly getting negative results on COVID-19 tests. The season will have to be carried out with no fans in person—although we will have coverage of the games to help bring you in the building, and the university will stream all home games for free on its Beach Vision platform.
Even if things continue to run smoothly in Long Beach, many hurdles remain. For one thing, other schools are being affected. Two of the Beach women’s opponents had to drop out shortly after the schedule was announced, leaving Long Beach with just two nonconference games, with 15 days off in between games.
There haven’t been Long Beach opt-outs, but some schools have had enough of them that they’ve called a wrap on the entire season. Cal State Northridge women’s team did that last week when it got down to a single-digit amount players remaining on the roster.
Both Beach teams were picked to finish sixth in the conference, and middle-of-the-pack mid-major college basketball has never sounded sweeter. At this point, we’d happily cover a scrimmage.
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