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WSU men’s basketball likely to play Thursday, may be without key player at Colorado

Who will it be? We’ll have to tune in to find out.

PULLMAN, WA - NOVEMBER 15: Washington State Men’s Basketball versus UC Santa Barbara at Beasley Coliseum - Kyle Smith Jack Ellis/CougCenter

If it feels like it’s been awhile since you last saw Washington State men’s basketball on the court... That’s because it has been awhile.

On December 22, the Cougs lost to Boise State in the Spokane Arena. They were scheduled to take a week off to enjoy the Christmas holiday before returning to host Washington on December 29, but that game never took place. Washington State was forced to postpone that game due to Pac-12 COVID-19 protocols impacting their program.

The Cougs are scheduled to next hit the court Thursday night when they visit Colorado, but the COVID-19 issues with in the WSU locker room called that game into question. In a press conference on Tuesday, Washington State head coach Kyle Smith reassured fans that he believes his team will be cleared to play Thursday night in Boulder.

“Colorado’s been through their little break and we seem to be getting closer to healthy,” Smith said Tuesday via Zoom. “We’ll head out there and hopefully get these two games in.”

Smith went on to break down the situation within his team that led to the Washington game being called off.

“We only had two guys that really had symptoms... But that’s kind of par for the course for everybody.”

Now the question is who will be available Thursday night in Boulder?

New protocols that were put into place by the Pac-12 in time for New Year’s Eve likely helped the Cougars in this case. The new rules say that asymptomatic individuals should isolate for five days following a positive test. If someone is showing symptoms, they must isolate until their fever has broken for 24 hours. The new regulations also say that “close contacts” with a person that has tested positive no longer have to quarantine.

Luckily for the team, the outbreak came during a scheduled stretch of one game in 15 days, giving the players plenty of time to bounce back. Smith says he thinks his team will be allowed to play and he might even have his whole team back.

“I think we’re close [to a full roster]. We’ll know something today, but I think we’re one short.”

Smith was then asked who that player is. He replied by answering that he’s not sure before coyly raising his eyebrows and giving a knowing smile. So we’ll just have to wait and see who the odd man out will be for the Cougs on Thursday. However, even if a player is eligible to play, that doesn’t mean they will all be 100%.

“Mentally, my biggest concern is that we have some guys that might only have one or two practices since December 22,” Smith said. “It’s kind of a reboot.”

WSU will (hopefully) take on Colorado Thursday night at 6 p.m. pacific time in Boulder on ESPNU.

Women’s basketball game postponed

Men’s basketball is far from the only sport dealing with the impact of the COVID-19 Omicron outbreak. On Tuesday, the WSU women’s basketball team announced that their game against Arizona State on Sunday has been postponed due to issues within the Sun Devil program. WSU’s game against #4 Arizona is still set to be played Friday night at 5 p.m. pacific.

Women's Basketball Contest at Arizona State Postponed - Washington State University Athletics
TEMPE, Ariz. – The Washington State women's basketball contest at Arizona State schedule for this Sunday, Jan. 9, has been postponed due to COVID-19 issues within

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Pac-12 power ratings: COVID clobbers the schedule as the conference scrambles to find make-up dates | The Spokesman-Review
UCLA hasn’t played in a month; UW has played three games in six weeks.

Pac-12 football: Grading each team's performance in the 2021 season
The collective deserves a D grade, at best. Some teams were bright lights among the gloom. Others failed miserably.