For what is reportedly the third time this season, Marquette women’s basketball will halt all team activities due to a positive COVID-19 test in the program. The team announced the stoppage via press release on Friday afternoon. As a result of the pause, three Big East league games have been postponed. They are as follows:
- Sunday, January 3: vs DePaul
- Wednesday, January 6: at Creighton
- Saturday, January 9: vs Villanova
For the time being, that makes Marquette’s next scheduled game a road trip to Seton Hall on Friday, January 15th, as the Golden Eagles didn’t have a game scheduled between the 9th and the 15th. It’s slightly funny that it’s that game, as that’s a game that already had to be postponed due to a coronavirus issue with the Pirates’ program. However, it’s not a guarantee that the game gets played this time around either. Head coach Megan Duffy told the Marquette Wire in a statement that the team will follow the guidelines and policies from their medical staff and the CDC to determine when they will get back on the court. In addition to that, an athletic department spokesperson told the Wire that there is no confirmation on precisely how long the stoppage will be at this time.
As I said at the top, this is reportedly the third time that the program has shut down due to a positive COVID-19 test. There’s the well publicized shutdown that we wrote about in late October when both men’s and women’s basketball were affected. There’s also a second unconfirmed stoppage that the women’s basketball team experienced in late November. There’s no press release on this, but play-by-play man Patrick Reed did explicitly state that it happened during MU’s December 4th game against Providence, noting that it wiped out the first week of the season for the Golden Eagles. There was never any mention of this from the team, nor was there ever a game officially announced as scheduled before the season opener against North Dakota, four days after the NCAA said the season could officially start.
It remains to be seen how this affects Marquette on the court. Without confirmation from the athletic department, I feel like we can wager an educated guess that Nirel Lougbo was somehow involved in the previous stoppages. The sophomore from Massachusetts has yet to play this season, although she has been seen as an active part of shootaround activities. MU has also only seen one minute of action this year from freshman wing Danyel Middleton. That came in the final 90 seconds of Marquette’s last game, a 69-56 victory at Xavier on December 22nd. Since she’s a freshman and MU’s other freshmen have seen spotty minutes so far this year, it’s hard to say for certain that Middleton has been hampered in some way by recovering from illness.
The point of the story is that there’s a serious reason to believe that MU’s roster has been notably affected by the pandemic already this season. If the Golden Eagles lose a rotation player to recovery, that has the potential to mess with MU’s forward progress as a team up to this point of the season.
There’s also the issue of extended time off. Marquette last played on December 22nd. Now they won’t play again until January 15th, and we don’t know when the team will be allowed to practice again. It probably won’t be for at least a week for certain. Taking more than two weeks off from regular practices and strength training can’t be seen as anything but detrimental to the team, even if they did have a practice or two since returning from Christmas break.
Marquette seemed to be hitting a certain amount of stride before taking time off for the holidays, especially given their stop-and-start-and-stop-again beginning to the season. The question becomes whether or not they’ll be able to pick up where they left off or if they’ll have to take two steps back in order to keep moving forward.
Keep your eyes and ears open for future information on if/when those three games will be rescheduled as well as confirmation that the Seton Hall game is officially set to be played.