The Long Beach State men’s basketball players were in full uniform and on the bus ready to go open their season at UCLA on Monday. Instead, coach Dan Monson had to tell them the game had been postponed.
“The players knew something was up because we were (supposed to leave already),” Monson said. “I told them, ‘I just talked to their coach, they’re not ducking us and they want to play. This is the world we’re living in right now and whoever can handle it and adjust the best will end up having the best results.’”
LBSU will continue practice this week in preparation for a trip to Loyola Marymount on Friday. The Beach home opener is Sunday against Seattle.
“UCLA decided that they weren’t comfortable playing today and I respect their decision,” said LBSU Athletic Director Andy Fee, who was on the phone Monday night working with UCLA to reschedule the game for later this month. “I think we can get to a point where we play but unfortunately today wasn’t in the cards.”
About two hours before the scheduled tip-off the UCLA Men’s Basketball Twitter account announced, “Tonight’s men’s basketball home opener has been postponed out of an abundance of caution based on COVID-19 protocol within the Long Beach State program.”
The official LBSU official statement two hours later said that the decision was made out of an abundance of caution, “between the teams” and not from the Beach.
“We were ready to play the game,” Fee said. “For whatever reason they didn’t feel comfortable within the agreement that we had made with them, but we’ve cleared everything with our medical people and we would’ve loved to have played the game tonight.”
UCLA Athletic Communications declined to comment beyond their official statement.
“I don’t fault them or us, this is just how we live,” Monson said. “There’s so many things that have to be cleared from each health board and each medical staff.”
LBSU’s return to the court has been delayed multiple times this month because of the stringent nature of the City Of Long Beach Health Department protocols. Fee confirmed Monday before the announcements that all of the LBSU men’s basketball players and staff had tested negative on Sunday after six days of testing.
“Every school and every team is going to have to make their own decisions,” Fee added. “I think you’re going to see more of this because the different conferences and teams have different standards and protocols and tests… Trying to get everyone on the same page is not as easy as it sounds.”
Fee also said it’s possible that LBSU will be in the same situation as UCLA in the future.
“Things change very quickly in the COVID world and we have to be comfortable being uncomfortable,” Fee said. “I certainly was optimistic, but in the back of my mind I thought, ‘Until they throw the ball up in the air I’m not going to get too worked up about it.’”
“Today we learned how to dress at home and already come on the bus in full uniform,” Monson said. “We know what it’s going to be like with the testing the day of and all of that. We did everything but tip it up.”
The COVID-19 related challenges also changed the LBSU women’s basketball schedule this week after William Jessup canceled it’s Dec. 7 game in Long Beach. That would’ve been the season opener for the Beach, and now the Dec. 22 visit to USC is the only non-conference game on the schedule.
This news doesn’t bode well for other LBSU teams waiting for a chance to practice together for a possible return in the spring. There are over 500 student-athletes and staff who would need to get tested consistently in order for those sports to return. The basketball teams are the only group to practice on campus since March.
“The presidents and chancellors of the Big West are scheduled to meet (next week) and I expect that meeting to kind of result in the final, ‘Where are we, where do we stand’ in terms of these sports happening,” Fee said.