- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Take a look at how Maryland basketball’s schedule has already adjusted three times in the six days since the season began, and you’ll see a microcosm of the fluidity gripping college basketball as a whole.

Shortly before the Terrapins tipped off Nov. 25 for their season opener against Old Dominion, news came from Monmouth. A member of the program’s Tier One group — which includes players, coaches and support staff — had tested positive for the coronavirus, resulting in a 14-day quarantine. That canceled Maryland’s matchup with the Hawks, originally scheduled for Dec. 1.

Next came an active search for a new opponent to play that date, with Towson secured the following day. And then the Tigers, too, discovered a positive test from a Tier One member, canceling another contest and triggering another search.

This time, Maryland added a matchup at James Madison on Saturday, tipping off at 3 p.m. and airing on NBC Sports Washington. The Terrapins — who are 3-0 with wins against Old Dominion, Navy and Mount St. Mary’s — will play consecutive days, meeting George Mason on Friday at Xfinity Center.

“We know every day that we play a game, it’s a blessing,” coach Mark Turgeon said Nov. 25. “… It was great to play one. Old Dominion did their part, we did our part, referees did their part, which allowed us to play today. When you get one in, it’s a great feeling.”

Some programs haven’t been so fortunate. No. 2 Baylor, for instance, canceled its first three games of the season — two of which were at a tournament in Connecticut — after head coach Scott Drew tested positive for the coronavirus.

But then the Bears boarded a plane on Thanksgiving night, almost out of nowhere, to play two games in Las Vegas while only initially knowing one of the opponents. Baylor wound up with two wins, toppling Washington and Louisiana-Lafayette.

“It’s been extremely chaotic, kind of a day-by-day basis,” Baylor guard Jared Butler said. “We’ve just been trying to find games to play.”

After Villanova won the Empire Classic in Connecticut, the team decided it didn’t want to leave “Bubbleville” yet. So the Wildcats extended their stay at Mohegan Sun and picked up a game against Virginia Tech — which resulted in a Hokies upset win.

Duke won’t play Elon on Dec. 6 because the Phoenix are in a 14-day quarantine. Colorado doesn’t have the minimum required scholarship players needed to face Stanford on Wednesday, the Pac-12 announced, so that matchup has been postponed.

Nothing is set in stone this season.

Turgeon has a new tradition before Maryland plays games. Once both teams have been tested and cleared, he sends out a tweet, confirming the game will actually happen: “Tested, cleared, ready to go!”

It’s just another layer to a campaign full of unknowns, with potential pivots hiding behind every corner.

“We know it’s going to be a part of our game this year,” Turgeon said before the season. “We’re going to do everything we can to make sure our coaches and players are healthy and safe, first and foremost. And then we’re going to follow all the protocols, and hopefully God blesses us and gives us a chance to stay healthy.

“Will it be a perfect season? Probably not,” Turgeon added. “But the excitement and just the mental health part of it, having a chance to do it has been great for everybody.”

• Andy Kostka can be reached at akostka@washingtontimes.com.

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