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ASU on track to play Oregon schools despite 3 players out with COVID-19

Head coach Bobby Hurley of the Arizona State Sun Devils talks with Remy Martin #1 during the second half of the NCAAB game against the Arizona Wildcats at Desert Financial Arena on January 21, 2021 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Three Arizona State Sun Devils men’s basketball players tested positive for COVID-19 and remain out of action, but head coach Bobby Hurley said his team is back to work, ready to host the Oregon Ducks on Thursday and Oregon State Beavers this Sunday.

“We had our first full practice yesterday so everyone has returned minus the three cases, and none of those guys were symptomatic,” Hurley told Arizona Sports’ Doug & Wolf on Tuesday.

Hurley said a smaller group of players had gotten in work Friday and Saturday in hopes of regaining their legs having taken a week off due to the three cases and contact tracing protocols.

ASU missed three games over the past week: A Thursday-Sunday visit to Colorado and Utah, plus a Tuesday home game against the Utes that was a rescheduled matchup from a postponed Dec. 22 game.

Due to health privacy laws, Hurley is not required to name which players tested positive for coronavirus.

If the Sun Devils take the court on Thursday against the Ducks (10-4), it will have been 12 days since they last played.

Hurley’s team respectively beat Cal and Stanford at home on Jan. 28 and 30, moving to 6-8 on a season that’s been disrupted multiple times due to COVID-19 cases.

The latest set of postponements came at a difficult time for a team that seemingly found its identity and a bit of rhythm.

Previously, ASU had to shift gears before the season opener when their opponent, Baylor, was swapped for Rhode Island days before the tip-off due to Baylor’s coronavirus issues.

Arizona State then didn’t play from Dec. 16 until Jan. 7 due to a canceled game against Incarnate Word, plus three postponements for games against Utah, Washington and Washington State.

Hurley was asked Tuesday whether it’s worth continuing to play through so much uncertainty.

“I think it is,” he told Doug & Wolf. “The moments that you’re able to have, you see the excitement and enthusiasm on your team, getting an opportunity to compete. It’s been a struggle and it hasn’t been the easiest thing to navigate. It’s certainly worth it when you have the opportunity to play Cal and Stanford and feel like you’re starting to get back on track.

“I feel like (Oregon’s) season kind of parallels ours in some ways. They have a little bit of a better record, but they’ve had two stoppages and they’ve missed a ton of league games as well,” Hurley added. “It’s a big two weeks for us. (There are) some really good opportunities out there with the Oregons coming and then hitting the road for the L.A. schools next week. This is a critical point for our season. We’re hopeful and excited that Oregon will be here Thursday night.”


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