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Coach K was Right: Non-Con Wasn’t Worth It

Syracuse basketball has had three games postponed due to New York State contract tracing guidelines, after a traveling member of Buffalo tested positive for Covid-19. Games against Notre Dame, Wake Forest and North Carolina are all postponed, and the ACC did not set aside specific dates for make-up games.

The team will now miss valuable opportunities to develop, both in-game and in-practice. If the Orange end up on the tournament bubble, it’s safe to assume the smaller sample size of games won’t do them any favors. Worst of all, the physical and psychological toll of isolating for a two week period is substantial.

It’s a huge blow, and it calls for consideration that Duke Coach Mike Kyrzweski was correct to cancel all non-conference games on behalf of his program.

“Making sure that we’re doing the right thing for our players, just for safety, we’re not going to play any [remaining] nonconference games,” Krzyzewski said in a video statement. “We’re not going to try to reschedule. We could try to reschedule three games, but we’re not going to do that.”

Balancing risk-reward is the name of the game nowadays. Coach K came to the conclusion that the risk of playing non-con outweighed the reward, and it appears he was correct. This virus doesn’t announce itself often until it’s too late, so we assume we have it, and we assume others have it as well; hence, masks. Did Syracuse basketball follow that line of thinking? Did they assume there would be positive tests within their non-conference opponents? Was Jim Boeheim aware that an opponent’s positive result would shut down SU Basketball for another two weeks?

This is the second time the program has had to pause for 14 days. Jim Boeheim’s positive test in mid-November forced a shut-down. For Buddy Boeheim individually, it’s his third quarantine in two months.

SU basketball risked this for what? To play five extra basketball games. Five out of a scheduled 27.

All 15 ACC teams are wearing microchips for precise contact tracing, which eliminates the need for total program shutdowns. The microchips track individual movement, so that if players test positive for coronavirus, only individuals who spent an extended period of time within six feet of the player would be subject to quarantine. This fantastic technology dramatically reduces the risk of playing basketball during this pandemic.

But a non-conference team like Buffalo can’t be expected to make the investment. It is unfortunate that New York hasn’t adapted to the updated CDC guidelines, which allow for 7-10 day quarantines for contact tracing, not 14. But you have to play with the cards you’re dealt. It was a game of roulette. Syracuse lost. It’s now clear it never should’ve played.

The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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