The Aztecs spent the last two seasons with a four-leaf clover in their pocket. On Tuesday, their luck ran out. San Diego State made the announcement that the team is officially on pause due to COVID-19 related concerns within the program.
This postpones the scheduled game against New Mexico on January 15. With over 100 teams and counting going on COVID-19 pause at some point, it seemed inevitable for SDSU men’s basketball.
Prior to the announcement, three Aztec Mountain West opponents postponed their game in the last week due to COVID-19 problems within their programs.
Only three teams in the conference have avoided their own COVID pauses so far this season: Utah State, Air Force, and New Mexico.
As of Monday in Coach Brian Dutcher’s press conference, this news was not announced, but it was on his radar.
“We tested today, we are not immune to it, hopefully we continue to stay healthy,” Dutcher said.
Tuesday’s announcement displays the results of possible new positive tests within the team.
Due to COVID-19-related concerns within the San Diego State men’s basketball program, the game between the Aztecs and New Mexico, scheduled for January 15 has been postponed.
The Lobos will now host Boise State on Saturday, Jan. 15 at 3:30 p.m. MT on FS1. pic.twitter.com/EOI4K2rS74
— Mountain West (@MountainWest) January 11, 2022
The Mountain West states that teams must submit a list of 13 players on their roster before the season. If seven players are available, then the game proceeds.
Thus far into the season, Trey Pulliam and Tahirou Diabate served their time in COVID quarantine. Adam Seiko and Joshua Tomaic were the latest victims, but they were expected to be available sometime this week. This would mean it is likely that multiple players tested positive yesterday, based on the known data.
According to the press release from San Diego State, the next game scheduled is UNLV on January 18. However, that game could be in jeopardy as well. In San Diego County, the quarantine period is 10 days for someone with a positive test. If players tested positive today, the Aztecs might be without select positive players for 10 days, or the program could potentially be on pause until around January 21.
This could, in theory, postpone a third and fourth home game of the season, the rematch against UNLV and a January 22 clash against Boise State if the Aztecs do not have enough players over the 10 day period.
This leaves the Aztecs with a possible four or five postponed games, only six games into the Mountain West season.
Dutcher was worried that the team might be short on games played to be NCAA Tournament eligible. However, last season’s COVID rules dropped the minimum games needed to be played by 50%. Teams meet eligibility if they play 13 games against another Division 1 opponent.
“As we start adding up games to make up, how many can you make up when the schedule is full down the stretch?” Dutcher said.
Last season, the Mountain West left an extra week at the end of the schedule to potentially make up postponed games. This season, the conference did not give that luxury.
The Aztecs are limited in places on the schedule to add a missed game. From January 26 to February 9, there are two four-day gaps in between games. At the end of the year on February 25, since the game against Colorado State was moved up, SDSU has a seven-day gap.
“The conference is going to have their hands full trying to figure out how to get these games in,” Dutcher said.
The Mountain West proved how quickly they would make a schedule change to play conference games with the advancement of the Colorado State game. But it is not to every team’s benefit. Dutcher said, “someone’s going to be unhappy in the end.”
The Aztecs want to play and the conference will figure out how to squeeze the games in.
Matt Bradley said after the Colorado State win, “coach always says regardless of who’s here, if we have five guys, we’re going to get the job done.”
Unfortunately, the Aztecs are short of the required guys to get the job done at least for one game.