FARGO — North Dakota State head men’s basketball coach Dave Richman said he slept “46 minutes” on Monday night. And it wasn’t because he had a couple late-night espressos.
It was looking possible, if not probable, that his team’s two-game men’s basketball series at the University of South Dakota this weekend wasn’t going to happen because of an apparent positive coronavirus test with the Coyotes. USD’s game against Oral Roberts on Sunday was canceled.
At stake: a possible Summit League regular season title. USD is 10-3 in the league, NDSU 10-4 and South Dakota State 7-3. All have two to play.
“The last 36 to 48 hours has been interesting whether we're going to play or we’re not going to play,” Richman said. “The worst part was the uncertainty, not knowing if you’re in or if you’re out.”
The news from USD on Tuesday, however, indicated a false positive and the games are on for Sanford Coyotes Sports Center in Vermillion. Richman said he talked with his captains on Sunday night so they could communicate the potential cancellation to the rest of the team.
The team took Monday off.
“This day and age of social media and communication, I’m sure they were on top of it,” Richman said. “Anytime, I’m basing it on much as you guys know, anytime a positive test at one point, that needs to be confirmed, it’s very tenuous. You think at that point you’re not playing but what we’ve learned in the last just short of a year is there’s false positives and there’s all kinds of uncertainties. Glad everybody is going to be healthy and safe and right below that glad for the opportunity going to have this weekend.”
SDSU hosts Missouri-Kansas City. The Summit winner and No. 1 seed for the tournament will be determined by winning percentage.
NDSU defeated USD 74-67 in the nonconference Dakota Showcase in Sioux Falls in December. That ended an 0-5 start to the season, at which point Richman received a text message from former Bison head coach Tim Miles.
“March matters,” Miles wrote.
“And I wrote that down and I put, we need to make March matter,” Richman said. “And our guys have done a terrific job over the last two, three months of putting us in position to make late February, March matter.”
The NDSU women are in a position to be the only Summit women’s team to play all 16 league games. The Bison are hoping to hang onto the third seed, one game ahead of Kansas City, which plays at SDSU.
“Obviously incredibly fortunate,” said Bison women's head coach Jory Collins. “Somehow just probably lucky to be on a scheduled path that didn’t get interrupted. I think it’s blind luck that it hasn’t touched us.”
For a young team, the benefit was the development opportunities for a young team.
“The more live game experience, the more situational basketball that we get to play, the better our team is going to become,” Collins said.