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Kyle Smith contracts COVID, WSU releases partial hoops schedule

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Well that was a busy news day!

Washington State v UCLA Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images

The beginning of the Washington State Cougars’ 2020-21 basketball season is exactly one week away, and while we now finally know they will open the season against the Texas Southern Tigers, we also now know that they will do it without head coach Kyle Smith, who has tested positive for COVID.

According to WSU, nobody else on the team has tested positive and Smith is self isolating.

“I was informed last night that I had tested positive for COVID-19 after experiencing some minor symptoms,” Smith said via news release. “I will continue to follow the advice of our medical staff and follow their guidance to get back to the team as soon as possible. I will continue to stay connected remotely and know our staff and players will work diligently leading into our first game next week. Go Cougs!”

COVID also has affected scheduling for everyone in college basketball, and WSU has elected to release just the first third of its schedule:

The opener, next Wednesday, is at 6 p.m. Every game so far is slated to be broadcast on Pac-12 Network.

You’ll notice there are a couple of Pac-12 games in there; that’s part of the Pac-12’s expanded schedule in which each team plays a couple of conference games in December. Of these games, which take the team through the end of the year, only a trip to Boulder, Colorado, takes the Cougars away from Pullman.

Jim Shaw will take over for Smith while he’s out, and the Cougars will be in excellent hands: Shaw spent the four years prior to joining WSU as the head man at Western Oregon, where he led the school to the No. 1 ranking in Division II in three of those years, and he also spent nine years on the Washington Huskies staff with Lorenzo Romar. Put simply, Shaw is a coach’s coach, and he’ll do a great job for however long Smith is out.