It was a somber mood on Friday afternoon at Matthew Knight Arena as Dana Altman, Payton Pritchard and Kelly Graves spoke about the end of their respective basketball seasons due to Coronavirus(COVID-19).
Oregon Senior Payton Pritchard said that right now the key is that people are safe, “It was upsetting knowing that I probably played my last game as an Oregon Duck. Now I think it’s coming down to just being safe.” Pritchard had the Oregon Ducks in like to make another run in the postseason when their game against Oregon State Thursday in the Pac-12 Tournament was canceled just hours before tipoff.
Head Coach Dana Altman echoed Pritchard, “You know this is so much bigger than basketball. People who are making these decisions have a lot more information….they had to make these decisions. It’s just a part of life.”
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Head Coach Kelly Graves said he was sad for the players, in particular his Senior Class, “I really feel for this Senior Class. This will never happen again. There will never be another group like this ever. What this group did to capture a brand new fan base is really incredible.”
Graves said he received a call earlier in the day Friday from Mark Emmert and that many of the Ducks’ foreign players may have returned to their respective countries to be with their families. He said the plan was the team had this week off and would return to campus to prepare for the now canceled NCAA Tournament.
The NCAA is working toward giving spring sports student-athletes and an additional year of eligibility and also looking at Winter Sports as well. It is not known if players like Sabrina Ionescu and Satou Sabally would return to school for a fifth season, but right now Graves said they did finish strong and had some closure, “We really felt like we were the best team in the country. We had a mission and had a reason to really want to get this done. It won’t take away from all of the great memories that we had and the things that we accomplished.”
Right now, team activities are suspended for all sports through March 29th. Recruiting is also not permitted. As it stands for Oregon Athletics, everything is at a standstill. The sign outside Matthew Knight Arena, which is usually active with showing what events are coming is set on one graphic for the arena. As it is everywhere, it still feels very surreal.
There is talk that the NCAA may still have a Selection Show as the only closure we will get to this season. CBS Sportsline also put together a simulation for March Madness 2020.
With what is going on, it is what we will all have to accept as closure.
Quotes obtained during media availability with Coaches and Players on 3/13/20.