Women's hoops set to begin: flexibility key in COVID times

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FILE - In this Friday, March 8, 2019, file photo, Louisville head coach Jeff Walz directs his team against Clemson during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the Atlantic Coast Conference women's tournament in Greensboro, N.C. Knowing that cancellations and postponements of games would be the norm this season amid the coronavirus pandemic, Walz started a text chain with a dozen coaches so that they could schedule games at the last minute when cancellations happened. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton, File)

Eight months after women's college basketball was stopped because of the coronavirus, the sport is back, with the new season tipping off Wednesday.

This year, getting to the Final Four, which is slated to be played in San Antonio, might not be purely about having the most talented team. It also could very well hinge on who has the least disruptions because of the coronavirus.

Flexibility, fluidity and adaptability are three words that every coach in the country has adopted this year as team mantras.

Before games even started, dozens of teams have had to pause their practices because of positive COVID-19 tests. With a positive result comes an NCAA suggested 14-day quarantine period for entire programs.

No. 3 UConn saw its first four games wiped out Monday when the Huskies had a positive result by someone in the program. Coach Geno Auriemma said it wasn't a player or coach. It didn't matter. The team is not allowed to practice for two weeks.

That eliminated early season showdowns with No. 5 Louisville and potentially sixth-ranked Mississippi State.

“Everybody is going to be in this scenario at some point,” Auriemma said. “Either already has been, is, or will be. You can just pretty much predict that.”

Before the season started, 20 games that were scheduled to be played on Wednesday were either canceled or postponed, including one for Louisville. Cardinals coach Jeff Walz didn't let that stop him from getting a game. Knowing that this would be the norm this season, Walz started a text chain with a dozen coaches so that they could schedule games at the last minute when cancellations happened.