Southern Illinois backs out of the Wade Houston Tipoff Classic after pausing all team activities following positive COVID-19 test results.
Louisville Basketball was set to open their season on November 25 against Southern Illinois in the Wade Houston Tipoff Classic, hosted in the KFC Yum! Center, but will have to do some last minute rescheduling after the Salukis will no longer be a part of the event. Southern Illinois was set to be a part of the nine team field in the Wade Houston Tipoff Classic but was forced to withdraw after a positive COVID-19 test result within the program.
SIU athletics released a statement Thursday stating:
"“We have diligently followed the safety protocols established by our administration and local health officials, but as we’ve seen throughout the country, Covid cases can and will arise. We will resume preparation for the season as soon as our medical professionals deem it is safe to do. Every college basketball program will need to be nimble in terms of scheduling and preparation. The health and safety of our players continues to be our top priority as we navigate the unique circumstances of the season.”"
Not only does this throw a wrench in the plans for the Wade Houston Tipoff Classic, but the beginning of Louisville’s schedule as well. Initial reports suggest that Evansville will replace Southern Illinois in the event, but there is no confirmation yet from either Evansville Athletics or Louisville Athletics.
Seton Hall Basketball announced on Wednesday that the basketball program has been shut down following a positive COVID-19 test of a player and their status to begin the season is also TBD. Louisville is scheduled to play Seton Hall on November 27, two days after their planned game against Southern Illinois that will now be cancelled. Seton Hall has not made the decision to back out of the event yet and as of right now, are still planning to make the trip to Louisville and play two games in the KFC Yum! Center.
In the event that both of Louisville’s first two games are cancelled and a team is not replacing SIU nor Seton Hall, then Louisville would begin their season November 29 against Prairie View A&M. As stated before, Evansville is expected to take Southern Illinois’ place in the Wade Houston Tipoff Classic and as a result, would play Louisville on November 25, but there is no confirmation of this yet from either athletic department.
Regardless of when Louisville begins their season, they will be missing senior captain Malik Williams and graduate transfer Charles Minlend. Williams announced last week that he is undergoing a procedure on his broken foot and will miss a minimum of two weeks and Minlend suffered a knee injury in practice that will keep him out 4-6 weeks. Injuries continue to plague the Cards early on as Sam Williamson and Josh Nickelberry are also questionable for the start of the season with differing knee injuries.
Louisville Basketball may be thin to begin the 2020-21 college basketball season, but they have plenty of depth to get the job done. Redshirt freshman Jae’Lyn Withers and sophomores Quinn Slazinski and Aidan Igiehon will be asked to step up into bigger roles at the start of the season, along with Louisville’s backcourt in Carlik Jones and David Johnson.
Hopefully everyone else participating in the Wade Houston Tipoff Classic reports no issues between now and the end of the event, but if one thing is certain, the 2020-21 college basketball season will be like no other and this will definitely not be the last COVID-19 case causing a cancellation. All we can hope for is for everyone to remain safe and healthy as the year progresses.