IU basketball ‘crossing our fingers’ to play opener after Tennessee Tech coach tests positive for COVID-19

Report from Indy Star’s Zach Osterman:

So dramatic was the ground shift when college basketball pushed back its start date to Nov. 25, IU’s first opponent of the season now on the horizon wasn’t even on the Hoosiers’ original schedule. And now, that opponent won’t have its head coach because of a positive test for COVID-19.

Tennessee Tech will travel to Bloomington for Wednesday’s opener after flexibility and old friendships hooked Indiana up with the Golden Eagles on short notice. Speaking on his first weekly radio of the new season, IU coach Archie Miller said Monday night the Hoosiers are “lucky” to have been able to get their opener set up. 

“We weren’t scheduled to play these guys. They weren’t on the first schedule,” Miller told show host Don Fischer. “We’re kind of lucky, as things fell apart there and we needed to scramble and figure out on Nov. 25, could we play somebody? They were available, willing and they’ve worked very hard with us to be able to pull off the testing and whatnot.

“We’re crossing our fingers that those guys are able to make it up here on Wednesday. We’re looking forward to playing.”

Wednesday’s game was thrown a curveball Monday night, when it was confirmed Tennessee Tech coach John Pelphrey had tested positive for COVID-19. Matt Denison of Hoosier Hills Hoops reported the news first. 

Tennessee Tech’s head coach will not make the trip to Bloomington, with assistant Marcus King assuming his duties for the game. 

Per an IU spokesman, Pelphrey’s positive test does not impact the status of Wednesday’s game, which remains on schedule.

Once the Golden Eagles arrive in Bloomington, pregame COVID-19 testing protocols will require every member of both teams to undergo rapid-response antigen testing Tuesday, when Tennessee Tech is expected to arrive in Bloomington, and then Wednesday, the day of the game. 

Any positive would be confirmed by a separate PCR test, as has been standard during the ongoing football season. 

Should all those test results return clean, the season will begin Wednesday, its earliest possible start date under the revised college basketball calendar. Testing protocols will remain the same for IU’s scheduled Dec. 13 visit from North Alabama. The Big Ten will cover the cost of that testing.

Tennessee Tech and North Alabama are the Hoosiers’ only nonconference home opponents, in a season where a truncated calendar and a lack of fans decreases the need for schools like Indiana — with significant fan bases and basketball-specific revenue requirements — to schedule a full complement of nonconference home games. 

IU announced recently that fans would not be allowed inside Assembly Hall indefinitely. 

But, presuming testing goes well once Tennessee Tech arrives, basketball will.

Pelphrey, who had IU associate head coach Tom Ostrom on his staff at South Alabama more than a decade ago, went 9-22 in his first season in Cookeville last year.

“Pel’s a great guy, man,” Miller told Fischer on Monday. “He’s one of the best guys out there. He’s back in the saddle here at Tennessee Tech. Took over a tough situation in Year 1, and preparing, obviously, in talking to him, to be better in Year 2.”

8 comments

  1. I don’t know how relevant Or important A.M. to success but another miss on recruiting to Creighton.

    1. Losing both Kaufmann and Miller really hurts IU! It is now Sweet Sixteen or bust for Archie to return for year 5. I wish him and this team well! After 4 full years this is his program, these are his players, win games now!

  2. I like Archie and really want him to be successful. Would love to see him finish his career at IU. But these recruiting losses combined with the transfer of a valuable senior and being ranked to finish eighth in the Big are indications that something is wrong. IU fans have a right to be concerned. And given his time in Bloomington, Archie’s out of excuses. No more blaming his predecessor or talking about the roster he inherited.

    I’m guessing the style of basketball, or more specifically the style of offense Archie has coached does not excite the most talented HS BB players. All these kids dream of playing in the NBA, and they evaluate college programs according to which coaches are most likely to help them get there. And that means developing their skills for an up-tempo, NBA-style offense.

    Creighton? Good gracious!

  3. Looking at Sports Illustrated take on Top 25. Ouch. Illinois #4……Iowa #6….. Michigan State #14……Wisconsin #16…….Ohio State #21. Of IU interest — Florida State #13….Houston #19 …..Dayton #25.

  4. It seems things are just to flat in IU men’s basketball. IU gets one high level recruit at a time. Far and few between. Then, recruiting drops to a second level that causes program to run in place. There seems to not be much exciting recruiting creativity.
    Excitement is in IU Ladies basketball program among players/student athletes and coaches plus fans. Besides games; program is creative, they take good trips, players have fun while meeting high expectations. And T. Moren is a competitor along with staff as she demands/is demanding being competitive.

  5. Women’s program? Exciting for you, t.
    But, in general, all the bread is buttered in the men’s game. National relevance, television rankings, draft nights, ticket sales and major advertising/apparel dollars are in men’s March Madness.

    I get it…Women’s game is a sense of pride. I like good swimmers like Mark Spitz and Lilly King, too.

    Just is what it is….Women’s hoops might as well be ballroom dancing. It just doesn’t get the butts in the seats.

    1. Just like the way Ladies program has progressed and image the way they play under T. Moren and staff. Ladies Program are creating their own high expectations.
      However, keeping Perspective IU men’s basketball program traditionally have highest of expectations but not sure they haven’t subsided in the 21st century.

  6. Just as always, this place is a bastion of negativity and doomsaying way before the opening tip. It was like this pre-football and here we are again.

    This year is big year for Archie and the program needs to take a leap. But doomsaying before anything happens is getting old. IU has its best roster quite some time this year. Excited for some roundball. We’ll see what happens. Go Hoosiers!

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