John Calipari believes college basketball can find a way to play the NCAA Tournament in 2021.
In a Thursday night appearance on ESPN Radio’s The Intersection, Kentucky’s men’s basketball coach shared the measures his team has taken to safely prepare for the upcoming season and explained how the professional basketball organizations set an example that college basketball can follow to successfully operate during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Here at Kentucky we’re truly in a bubble. The lodge where the kids stay and the practice facility, which is our own and the weight training, training room, the cook and everything — we’re in a bubble. The thing that’s happened for all of us in basketball is the NBA and the WNBA have shown a path for us to have a season,” said Calipari.
“There’s not going to be people on campus after Thanksgiving. It probably opens up a door after Thanksgiving that even if we’re not having fans, there’s going to be a safe campus based on your team’s going to be there by themselves. Going forward we’ve gotta listen to the science. We’ve gotta listen to the doctors. We gotta make sure our kids our safe. But the NBA and the WNBA has given us a path that we can do this, including the NCAA Tournament. We can play the NCAA tournament in a bubble. Instead of it being weeks on weeks long, maybe it’s shorter. You lose, you’re out of the bubble. You go home. I think that basketball is different. You’re talking a team of 12 and probably a party of 22. It’s totally different than most of the other sports.”
Calipari isn’t the only one talking about a college basketball bubble. Dan Gavitt, the NCAA’s leading men’s basketball official, said earlier this week that setting up an NBA-like bubble is one of the many scenarios the organization is considering. Yesterday we learned that one group is reaching out to schools to play a non-conference basketball tournament in a Houston bubble setting.
Obviously, player safety is paramount for Coach Cal. That’s why he believes the best place for college athletes is in a bubble-like setting on college campuses.
“They’re safer on our campus,” Calipari said. “You’re not going to have to go to the emergency room if you ever did get sick. The precautions and the protocols we are taking are above and beyond, so I always say our guys are safer here. In the bubble we have at Kentucky, they’re safer here. Whether we play or not, that’s going to be up to the powers that be, but we do have a path that’s been shown to us.”
What exactly will that path look like? Calipari is unsure right now. All he knows with 100% certainty is that he has one heck of a basketball team.
“I enjoy being in the gym with my guys. I got a good team too. For both of you, we gotta play. I got a really good team. It’s like, let’s go!”