The hard part is waiting.
That was the message delivered Monday by New Mexico State men’s basketball coach Chris Jans, who addressed his team’s latest COVID-19 shutdown from the front seat of a car outside the team’s hotel in Phoenix.
“I can’t lie to you,” Jans said. “It’s very emotional. I worry about their mental health, and not just the players; everyone on our Tier 1 group, you know? People handle these sorts of situations differently, everyone has a different internal makeup and some are going to be more equipped, for whatever reason, than others in being able to navigate what we’re going through and keep your wits about you.”
The Aggies (2-1) have played just one game since Dec. 1 and aren’t scheduled to resume games for at least another week. They’ve twice been hit by coronavirus outbreaks, the latest of which wiped out their Western Athletic Conference series against UC Riverside Jan. 2-3.
Much like its in-state rival UNM in Albuquerque, NMSU left the state in November to avoid the public health order that prohibits gatherings of more than five people. The Aggies moved into a Phoenix resort and played a pair of non-Division I teams after Thanksgiving. Their only game since then was a Dec. 28 loss at Cal-State Northridge.
Jans said he has stressed the need to communicate regarding each person’s mental health. The players and coaches have had minimal in-person contact in the last week, doing much of their interacting via videoconference call.
NMSU was attempting to schedule as many as four non-Division I games in the first few weeks of January, but have settled into the idea that there may be nothing on the horizon until the Aggies play Rio Grande Valley on Jan. 22-23, probably in the Phoenix area.
“It’s difficult to find Division I games at this point with everyone in their own league races, but certainly we’re trying to put ourselves in position once we get off this pause to play a game or two prior to that Jan. 22 date,” Jans said.