On Wednesday, Michigan felt its first impacts from COVID-19’s ravaging effects on college basketball, even as the Wolverines have avoided an outbreak themselves.
Michigan was scheduled to take part in the Big Ten-ACC challenge with a matchup against North Carolina State, which would have been its marquee non-conference opponent. Instead, the Wolverines faced an overmatched Toledo team after NC State had an outbreak beginning last week at the Bubbleville Tournament in Connecticut.
For Michigan, the rescheduling — which occurred on two days’ notice — served as a reminder of the burning landscape around them.
“I’m always concerned about our players, staff, support staff, about their health,” Michigan coach Juwan Howard said. “Health is always (priority) number one with me. Basketball is last. … I get the health report every day from our trainer, Alex Wong, who does a phenomenal job, but our guys are doing a phenomenal job of doing whatever they can — wearing their masks, washing their hands, staying away from social gatherings.
“They want to play basketball, they wanted to have a season. I talked to each and every one of them, nor was it I, as a coach, pressuring them or it was coach-driven. It’s about them and whatever they wanna do. If our guys said, ‘Hey coach, I wanna opt out,’ I respect it and I support it.”