When the weekend is over, Arizona women’s basketball will be lucky if they have started their Pac-12 season at all. In what is supposed to be the second week of Pac-12 play, the Wildcats have already lost a third conference game due to COVID-19 protocols. This time, it is the Washington Huskies feeling the bite of the virus.
The Wildcats were supposed to start Pac-12 play on Dec. 31 against USC. The Women of Troy postponed that game due to problems within their program. UCLA also postponed their game against Arizona, scheduled for Jan. 2, due to COVID-19 protocols.
Arizona’s press release announcing the latest postponement read, “The two programs will work with the Pac-12 to reschedule the game on a mutually agreed upon date. Fans with tickets to the Arizona vs. Washington game scheduled for Jan. 9 will be able to use their original tickets at the rescheduled game.”
However, at this point, no postponed games have been rescheduled by any team in the conference. Last week, the only league games held were California at Washington State and Stanford at Washington State. Oregon and Arizona State chose to schedule last-minute games against nonconference opponents.
Oregon State and Arizona appear to have been healthy, but neither team played. According to Sam Thomas’ column at All Sports Tucson, Arizona returned to practice after Christmas.
Last season, Arizona had five games postponed due to COVID-19. They were not rescheduled.
Washington announced that they had entered protocols on Dec. 27. With the new Pac-12 protocols requiring just five days of quarantine, there was hope that the Huskies would be able to play against the Arizona schools.
The new guidelines require asymptomatic Tier I personnel to isolate for five days. After that, they can return to regular activities, but they are required to wear a mask for five more days.
For symptomatic individuals, isolation must last for at least five days or until 24 hours after any fever has resolved without the help of medication, whichever is longer. Then, personnel can return to normal activities, but they should mask for 10 days after emerging from quarantine.
Arizona is currently set to open Pac-12 competition against Washington State at McKale Center. Tip-off is planned for Friday, Jan. 7 at 6 p.m. MST.
The Wildcats had their own run-in with COVID-19 protocols before the holidays. They have now seen five games either canceled or postponed this season. With only 15 games left on their schedule, they must play every game still on the slate to meet the NCAA-mandated 25 games required for inclusion in the NCAA Tournament. If they don’t reach the limit by the end of the regular season, they must use the Pac-12 Tournament to try to reach the required number of games.
Washington has played only eight games this season. Postponing both ASU and Arizona means the team must now win at least two games in the Pac-12 Tournament to reach the required number of games.
The NCAA will discuss whether to rescind the 25-game limit when they meet during the third week of January. Last year, the limit was lowered to 13 games.