The Pac-12 conference announced Sept. 24 that basketball will begin on its originally scheduled start date in compliance with COVID-19 guidelines overseen by the Pac-12 COVID-19 Medical Advisory Committee.
Players will receive daily antigen testing as well as one weekly polymerase chain reaction, PCR, test which looks directly at DNA chains in close detail. USC Athletics' testing is available due to the Pac-12′s recent partnership with Quidel, the corporation providing the rapid, daily antigen tests for student-athletes. In the event of a positive test, that student-athlete will isolate and agree to cardiac monitoring following their isolation period. Athletes have been associated with a higher risk of cardiac complications after Covid-19 recovery due to their high levels of exercise. “When people have inflammation or infection of the heart and they exercise at high levels, there’s pretty good data out there that suggests that it could lead to a risk of sudden cardiac arrest.” said Dr. Eli Friedman, medical director of sports cardiology at Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute.
Though the Trojans are returning for an unprecedented season, USC women’s basketball coach Mark Trakh is ready.
“I want to put a competitive product out there playing together,” Trakh said. “We finished the year well, last year, we were playing well... No one knows how this season’s gonna play out, but it’s gonna be interesting. We’re just going to remain positive and try to be competitive every game.”
The women’s basketball team went 17-14 overall in the 2019 season despite a young roster. Freshman forward Alissa Pili headlined the young players, being named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and making the Pac-12 All-Freshman team.
Junior captain Desiree Caldwell is excited to return to the court.
“We’re just going to have to make the most out of every opportunity that we’re given to play basketball because we know how hard it was to go without it for six months,” Caldwell said. “Time without it really just made us even more hungry and it gave us time to get ready for the season. We’re excited to show the grit that we have, and the strength that we have as a team still to perform to the best of our abilities in this unusual situation.”
The USC men’s basketball team went 22-9 overall in the 2019 season, which likely would have landed them a spot in the NCAA March Madness tournament, which was canceled due to COVID-19.
Men’s basketball coach Andy Enfield is awaiting his team’s return to the coveted tournaments.
“Our goals are the same as every year,” Enfield said. “We’re going to compete for the Pac-12 championship and then make the NCAA tournament to compete for the national championship. We had a very good team last season, so we will try to build on some of the success we had last year, especially on the defensive end of the floor, and try to get off to a good start this year.”
Men’s basketball forward Isaiah Mobley is preparing to enter a leadership role during his second season with the Trojans.
“Getting this opportunity is great, especially with last season being cut short.” Mobley said. “This season is even more meaningful. You never know which game could be your last and it just makes you realize how special each game is.”