Basketball will return in late November

Max Aguirre, Sports Editor

The NCAA Division I council recently approved a plan to begin both men’s and women’s basketball on Nov. 25 with the first day of full practice scheduled for Oct. 14. The season would have started on Nov. 10 under normal circumstances, but COVID-19 precautions have pushed the season back to where it now stands. The idea behind the move to Nov. 25 is that most universities will have either wrapped up the semester or moved it to all-online instruction. The absence of a large part of the campus population would theoretically help keep athletes safer. The NCAA also published health and safety guidelines which detail travel regulations, testing protocols, and plans to isolate tier one individuals such as players and officials. 

The push to Nov. 25 also cuts the season short for both men’s and women’s basketball. Men’s teams can schedule 24 games plus one multiple team event of up to three games. The same is true for the women’s teams, but they can schedule one fewer game.

The return of basketball to UTSA is encouraging. The university’s athletic department seems to be figuring out effective ways of sidestepping the pandemic while also bringing some much needed excitement to campus. 

The men’s team in particular should garner a fair amount of attention. Led by possible NBA draft pick Jhivvan Jackson and his record-breaking 26.8 points per game, the Roadrunners look to improve on what some viewed as a mediocre 2019 campaign. The team finished with a 13-19 overall record and a 7-11 conference record. The men were very good at home (10-5) but struggled away from campus (3-9). 

The ‘Runners have some great players on the roster. Besides the aforementioned Jackson, the group also features senior Keaton Wallace, who’s been a standout since he began his career at UTSA in 2017. A reliable scorer, Wallace also led the team in assists last year with 98. Jacob Germany, a 6-foot-11-inch center, deserves some attention as well. The sophomore performed admirably last year, pulling down rebounds and making his presence felt on the defensive side of the ball. Eric Parrish, who transferred to UTSA from Nevada, will now be eligible to play for UTSA this year. He looks to be yet another scoring threat for UTSA. Parrish averaged 18.4 points per game for Nevada as a sophomore in the 2018-19 season.

The women’s team will also look to improve on last year’s records. They finished 6-23, struggling throughout the season. Leading scorer Mikayla Woods returns for her sophomore season, and several transfer players such as Yuliyana Valcheva and Emilie Baek look to reinforce a squad that sometimes struggled to score. Forward Adryana Quezada will also look to continue her role with the team. Quezada provided a stout defensive presence and was a reliable scorer, rebounder and playmaker. 

Schedules have yet to be released for the teams, but the fact that another sport has taken the steps necessary to resume play is an encouraging sign for sports in the near future.