The NCAA Men’s Basketball season is set to tip off on Nov. 25. A new season with new goals and aspirations is an exciting prospect for Texas Christian University Men’s Basketball, according to an interview with Head Coach Jamie Dixon.
“Our guys are excited just to get back out there and compete,” Dixon said. “That’s the big thing they’ve been missing during the pandemic, just being able to play alongside each other and compete.”
Following a summer of uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dixon described the challenges that he and his coaching staff faced in terms of recruiting and building a team to challenge for the BIG12 title in 2020-21.
“We weren’t permitted to be on the road at all this past summer, so recruiting was very difficult,” Dixon said. “We basically just had to watch a lot of film and have a lot of Zoom calls with players and their families, trying to gauge where they were at in their college decision-making process.”
Dixon also recognizes the difficult circumstances that college first-years have been thrust into due to the pandemic and feels sympathy for them and their experience with college basketball thus far.
“A majority of our (first-year) players never were able to even come visit and see the campus before they arrived this August,” Dixon said. “We had to just call them on video and show them around, but of course that is not even close to being the same as actually walking around campus, walking their class schedules and just generally getting comfortable with their surroundings, so in that regard I feel a lot of sympathy for them.”
Although teams were limited in terms of getting prospective student-athletes on campus over the past six months, Dixon explained how he believes schools have made the most of an unprecedented situation, which he believes will lead to an unforgettable season.
“From what I can tell, every school has done a really good job of following the COVID-19 protocols and being very diligent in trying to avoid a spread,” Dixon said. “We all want to play basketball this season, but more importantly, we all want to be healthy and make sure others are healthy, too, so hopefully if we continue to be smart with this situation both of those goals can be accomplished.
Dixon discussed how often he, his staff and his players at TCU have been tested for the virus, and how that has affected their practice plans so far this fall semester.
“In the beginning of the semester, everybody was being tested once per week, but as time has moved on, now we are tested each three times per week,” Dixon said. “Of course, we’ve had to be flexible with our practice plans and schedule, making sure everybody has tested negative and is healthy to go out on the court and compete.”
Dixon is very confident that the NCAA Tournament will happen this spring. Otherwise known as March Madness, the tournament was cancelled this past March due to COVID-19.
“The tournament is something that the NCAA will figure out a way to hold,” Dixon said. “From a financial standpoint, it has to happen, and from a health standpoint, they will do everything they can to ensure the safety of all of the players and staff.”
For college basketball fan Brett Heckert, ’22, the anticipation for the upcoming season is building.
“What I’m most excited to see is just more sports being played in general,” Heckert said.“Taking away March Madness last year was very shocking for everybody and really showed us all that there was a real problem in our country.”
Much like Dixon, Heckert agreed that COVID-19 would likely not affect any plans for conference tournaments and the NCAA tournament, as well.
“At the Division I level, unless there is a massive outbreak, I don’t think COVID-19 should affect the season’s conference play and tournaments,” Heckert said. “Just like major college football, money talks.”
Jacob Budnar, ‘22, another college basketball fan described the competition and talent that he looks forward to seeing this season.
“Kansas is the No. 1 ranked team going in, and they are a legacy program so they should be solid,” Budnar said. “Dayton is a cool story given the fact that they are a small school competing at the highest level, so there should be some interesting results this season for sure.”
One of the most successful college basketball coaches in the nation, Jamie Dixon, and for fans who can not get enough of college basketball, both agree that they cannot wait to get this season started and see how it plays out in the end.