“We’ve navigated it as best we can,” Young said during the weekly ACC coaches video conference call with reporters. “We had such great momentum after the Miami game. I thought we were playing good basketball, and we get paused, but we’ve got two weeks left in the regular season and then the ACC tournament to look forward to.”
The Hokies have been practicing for the past several days, Young indicated, but without anything approaching a complete roster because undisclosed players went into quarantine after a member of the program’s Tier 1 group (people for whom physical distancing and face coverings are not possible during practices or games) tested positive, initiating contact tracing protocols.
No players have tested positive, according to Young, who said he anticipates the majority of his regular rotation to be available Tuesday night. The status of Tyrece Radford remains unclear; the starting guard has been on indefinite suspension since Jan. 25 while dealing with a legal matter.
In the midst of the ACC’s scheduling disarray, Virginia Tech continues to be in the mix for the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament that begins March 9 in Greensboro, N.C. The Hokies (14-4, 8-3) are in third place behind No. 11 Florida State (13-3, 9-2) and No. 15 Virginia (15-5, 11-3).
Virginia Tech throttled Virginia, 65-51, on Jan. 30 in Blacksburg in the teams’ only meeting so far after their Jan. 2 contest was postponed when Virginia reported a positive test within its program. Both of the Hokies’ scheduled games against Florida State have been postponed.
Virginia Tech’s prolonged pause in some basketball-related activity in addition to not playing games leaves conditioning as a primary concern for Young, who revealed he typically does not scrimmage much at this time of the season, preferring instead to refine plays and defensive sets.
“There’s not a lot of contact at practice, but [I] had to rethink that,” Young said. “We probably scrimmaged three-, four-minute games. That’s a legitimate game, tie score, just to get them up and down. Concerned about it [Tuesday]? I am, but they are big, strong, healthy people. We’ve just got to get back on the floor is the bottom line.”
Other ACC programs have had mixed results coming off extended time away from games this season.
Louisville fell to North Carolina, 99-54, on Saturday in its first game in 19 days after four postponements, including a game against Virginia Tech originally scheduled for Feb. 13 that was moved to March 3. The Cardinals had another pause in early December and lost in lopsided fashion, 85-48, at Wisconsin in their first game back more than two weeks later.
Florida State, however, flourished after two pauses. The Seminoles dismantled North Carolina State, 105-73, on Jan. 13 coming off a two-week hiatus and started a five-game winning streak. More recently, the reigning ACC champions outlasted Wake Forest in overtime Feb. 13 after a second pause to begin a three-game winning streak that included toppling Virginia.
“I’ve talked to so many colleagues that have gone through it, and [they had] some really interesting ideas,” Young said. “Some struggled initially, and not sure what they would do to combat that a second time. There’s not a tried and true, ‘Well we did this, and it worked out really well.’ There’s none of that.”