It’s business as usual for the Ohio State men’s basketball team as it prepares to travel to Indianapolis for the Big Ten tournament, coach Chris Holtmann said Wednesday afternoon, but that could change as concerns surrounding the coronavirus outbreak mount.
“I don’t know where this is headed,” Holtmann said. “I think we all know it’s a very fluid situation. I do think there will continue to be some things that will really impact the NCAA Tournament.”
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As the virus has spread throughout the United State, professional and college sports teams and leagues have adjusted plans accordingly. The Big West and Mid-American Conferences have hosted their league tournaments without fans, while the Ivy League canceled its outright. Today, the College Basketball Invitational announced that it would not hold a tournament this season. Multiple colleges, including Ohio State, have canceled in-person classes for the coming weeks.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the Big Ten had not announced any changes to its conference tournament, which begins Wednesday night with a pair of games. The Buckeyes are set to face Purdue on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse in downtown Indianapolis.
Holtmann said the coaching staff spoke with players Tuesday to refresh the importance of taking proper care of themselves, from washing hands to getting proper sleep and similar matters.
“We talked to them in specific ways about things we’re going to try to keep in mind to protect them,” he said. “I’ve encouraged them, unfortunately with fans right now you might not want to shake hands, you might not want to sign things. It might not be in your best interest to do that, but we’ve just had those conversations.”
Junior guard CJ Walker, an Indianapolis native, said he had to add nearly two-dozen more people to his usual ticket allotment for the tournament that is being played 15 minutes from his house. Should they not be allowed to attend, or should only some of them be allowed, Walker said it wouldn’t impact the game.
“We practice in front of zero people every day,” he said. “We love to play basketball. We do this every day. It would most definitely be different, playing in an actual game with nobody there, but we grind and work every day when nobody’s there, nobody’s watching. I don’t feel like it would make a difference for our team. We’ll be out there ready to play and do what we do.”
Added Ohio State junior center Kaleb Wesson, “Whether you’re playing in a stadium full of people or not, you’ve got to come to play. We really don’t control who comes to the games anyway.”
Holtmann said he was given updates Wednesday morning that could impact potential recruiting travel for the coaching staff but said he didn’t want to get into specifics, noting that by the time the team arrives in Indianapolis later that evening the situation could have changed. Otherwise, the team has made no changes yet to its travel plans or accommodations.
“It’s just a very fluid situation,” Holtmann said.