EL PASO, TEXAS (KTSM) – If everything was normal, New Mexico State and UTEP could’ve been playing in the NCAA basketball tournament this weekend. Instead, they’re like the rest of us: social distancing and hoping for the best.
“In this generation we’ve never seen anything like what we’re experiencing right now,” UTEP men’s basketball coach Rodney Terry said.
Less than two weeks ago, college basketball players for UTEP and New Mexico State and around the nation were worried about making the NCAA Tournament. Now, things are different.
“The vast majority of our guys are here in Las Cruces and like every other American just trying to get through the days,” said NM State men’s basketball coach Chris Jans.
That means social distancing, which is tough for high-level athletes who have to work out constantly to stay in top competitive shape.
“Their next season is made in the spring and summer and fall, so I think it might just take a little more time,” NMSU women’s basketball coach Brooke Atkinson said. “Once we get a handle on this I think you just have to assess where they’re at.”
However, the Aggies and Miners are focusing less on basketball right now and more on the global ramifications of coronavirus and keeping their players healthy.
“We told all our guys that they don’t have to come back to campus because everything this next week of school is going to go towards online instruction,” Terry said.
“They’re just like everyone else. They’re concerned and living day-by-day and trying to make sure that they have enough food,” said Jans.
Despite how much life has changed in the last 10 days, the sting of how the season ended is still there.
“We didn’t have any anger at all. Everyone understood that this was a worldwide epidemic,” UTEP women’s basketball head coach Kevin Baker said. “What we saw was frustration and moreover, sadness. Our seniors were really clicking and we wanted them to finish on a high note.”