Zags back in action

The Gonzaga basketball seasons are planned to be back in action for competition on Nov. 25. 

The words college basketball fans have been waiting for months to hear what can now be said: college basketball is back.

The NCAA announced on Sept. 16 that the Division I Council approved the first date of men’s and women’s basketball competition for Nov. 25, postponing the original Nov. 10 start date two weeks. 

"The new season start date near the Thanksgiving holiday provides the optimal opportunity to successfully launch the basketball season," said NCAA Senior Vice President of Basketball Dan Gavitt via an NCAA news release. "It is a grand compromise of sorts and a unified approach that focuses on the health and safety of student-athletes competing towards the 2021 Division I basketball championships."

According to the news release, the Nov. 25 start date allows for teams to stay on campus in a safe manner, as 75% of Division I schools will have already finished their fall semesters by then or schools will have already moved classes online.

With the announcement of the new start date for the 2020-21 NCAA basketball season, four games will be cut for the upcoming season. According to the news release, men’s basketball programs have three options for how they can schedule their seasons.

“In men's basketball, teams can schedule 24 regular-season games and participate in one multiple-team event that includes up to three games; 25 regular-season games and participate in one multiple-team event that includes up to two games; or 25 regular-season games if a team does not participate in a multiple-team event,” the news release said.

For women’s basketball, teams will be given the option of either participating in a 23-game season with one multiple-team tournament with a maximum of four games or a 25-game season with no multiple-team tournament.

Practices for teams will begin Oct. 14 and will be given 42 days to have a maximum of 30 practices. According to the news release, teams must have an off-day a week, and the maximum time spent practicing during that time is 20 hours a week and four times a day. 

Prior to practices, Division I teams will be given a “transition period” between out-of-season activities and preseason practices “to provide additional time for players to prepare for the upcoming season based on the mental and physical challenges basketball players are facing as a result of the pandemic," the news release said.

“The transition period will occur Sept. 21-Oct. 13, and teams may participate in strength and conditioning activities, sport-related meetings and skill instruction for up to 12 hours a week, with an eight-hour limit on skill instruction,” the news release said.

According to the news release, players must have two days off per week during the transition period.

Gonzaga athletic director Mike Roth said head coaches Mark Few and Lisa Fortier and their respective staffs have been on top of everything when it comes to resetting the schedule with the newly announced start dates. Roth said going forward, it looks likely that we will see pods rather than home and away games, but that is information Roth said is still being worked out.

“Things will start to come together,” Roth said.

Roth also said that the likelihood of having fans attending games is presently unlikely.

Regardless of whether fans will be allowed to enter The Kennel this season, Gonzaga basketball presently is just around the corner, with NCAA basketball fans circling Nov. 25 waiting eagerly for the welcome home party that is college basketball.

Vinny Saglimbeni is a sports editor. Follow him on Twitter: @vinnysaglimbeni.

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