Purdue's men's basketball team is scheduled to play Nicholls State tonight at Mackey Arena – for now.
As college basketball, college football, the NBA, the NFL and the NHL deal with a spate of coronavirus-induced postponements and cancellations in recent days, the No. 3 Boilermakers (11-1) have so far remained unscathed entering their final nonconference matchup of the season against the Colonels of the Southland Conference.
That could change at any time, but as of late Tuesday, Purdue and Nicholls were ready to take the court this evening.
“We've communicated with Nicholls and they said they're fine,” coach Matt Painter said. “Our whole travel party is vaccinated, our whole travel has a booster shot. We've done everything in our power (to avoid outbreaks) and we'll continue to do so.”
That does not mean Painter is serene about the situation facing college basketball. He said he's very concerned about what the next several weeks may bring, but he also took solace in the knowledge the sport handled the issue last season, so the protocols for doing so again are familiar to players, coaches and staff.
Still, the uncertainty of what lies ahead worries him.
“If it has to get extreme, they'll make those of type of decisions,” the 17th-year coach said. “It's just waiting for the leadership in the NCAA, in your conference to really get some guidance where you are. I think when you don't hear anything, that uncertainty is out there also.
“If you're going to make a broad stroke of no fans or how you travel ... if we have to get back to that, we've proven we can do that. No one wants that, but we're just in a holding pattern here.”
Shortly after Painter spoke, the Big Ten released updated guidance on conference game cancellations, rescinding the rule that required a team to forfeit if it did not have enough healthy players to compete. Instead, the league will try to reschedule such games and the league office will review games which cannot be rescheduled to determine whether they should be declared a forfeit or a no-contest.
As Painter worries how the virus will affect the rest of the season, his players remain focused on beating the Colonels (8-5) and guard Ty Gordon, who scores 20.4 points per contest. The Boilermakers are confident they have done everything they can to stay healthy.
“I'm not concerned at all,” guard Jaden Ivey said. “Our trainers, they keep us in a great spot. If there are teams that can't play us, we have to move on to the next game, but whatever happens happens.”
Guard Sasha Stefanovic, who missed three games after contracting the virus last season, echoed his backcourt mate's feelings.
“As a team I think we've done a great job of doing everything we can to be prepared for anything that could happen,” Stefanovic said. “We've done the work ahead of stuff, making sure everyone's healthy and safe and all that, just making sure we're responsible. It's crazy, but you just have to focus on the things you can do and let everything else happen.
“You're focusing on your opponent like you're going to play them no matter what, so it's one of those things that's out of our control.”
vs. Nicholls State
When: 5 p.m. today
Where: Mackey Arena, West Lafayette
Records: No. 3 Purdue (11-1), Nicholls State (8-5)
TV: Big Ten Network