The University of Alabama in Huntsville’s men’s and women’s basketball teams are set to open their seasons against Mississippi College this weekend.
UAH’s men’s team will open the season with two games at Spragins Hall, while the women will play down in Clinton, Miss.
Coaches John Shulman and Andrea Lemmond said Wednesday that a lot of things had to change to get to this point and the excitement grows the closer we get to Friday.
“We’re tested three times a week so we can play a basketball game,” Shulman said. “I can’t tell you how excited our kids are about trying to hopefully play on Friday night and Saturday afternoon. Been a lot of work to go into playing a basketball game this year.”
In a year unlike any other, coaches Shulman and Lemmond are preparing for a season unlike another. Shulman said during a period where the team would usually be practicing, they’re now getting COVID tests and discussing where they can sit during games.
“Everything we’ve taken for granted in the past is no longer taken for granted. So, we’re awfully excited to be playing a game,” he said.
In addition to the team protocols, games held at Spragins Hall will only be open to family members of the student-athletes this December, according to the university.
Coach Shulman said it appears the lack of fans has hurt some teams, mentioning Duke by name, but said he doesn’t think it will have an impact on his guys.
“I would dread playing us in an empty gym because we’re going to be loud. We’re going to be really loud and we’re going to be excited about playing,” he explained.
It’s a similar experience for the women’s team. Coach Lemmond said the practices have looked different with masks and sanitizer all around, with extra efforts off the court.
“Now that we’re testing three days a week, we basically told them just try to stick, just kind of stay in your bubble,” she said. “Like, we are your bubble, women’s basketball is your bubble.”
Both coaches expressed excitement about having the opportunity to compete again. Should everything come back negative during the final COVID testing of the week on Thursday, they’ll be good to go for this weekend.