The coronavirus outbreak shut down sports at colleges and universities across the country, but in May the NCAA voted to allow voluntary workouts on campuses beginning June 1st for football and basketball teams. Sam Scholl's University of San Diego hoops team is trying to make the most of this month, but none of that work is taking place inside their gym.
“It's all locked up,” Scholl said. “It’s all locked up.”
The Jenny Craig Pavilion is empty, at a time when basketball players are normally together, sharpening their game.
“That's a big time for development,” Scholl said. “We're missing out on that.”
Instead, during this period of voluntary work coaches can only offer up homework - and hope his guys get some of it done, wherever they are. Since the coronavirus forced students off campus, most of his team is out of town, so like so many others they've figured out ways to be productive from a distance.
The Toreros have had to rely on Zoom meetings, and virtual film sessions. They’re also having to come up with ways to get players to connect on a personal level, when true face-to-face interaction isn’t an option.
“Start to become engagement with each other and having to start to build team until we can all be together.”
That's particularly important this where Scholl has added a lot of new faces to their roster.
USD finished with just nine wins this year. Out of 353 division one programs USD ranked 310th in points per game, and 302nd in field goal percentage.
To fix that issue Scholl has landed five transfers this offseason: guards Frankie Hughes (Duquesne), Josh Parrish (Rice) and Bryan Greenlee (Minnesota), along with forwards Yavuz Gultekin (Texas A&M) and Ben Pyle (Western Illinois). All but Pyle were three-star recruits in high school. Hughes and Parrish will be eligible to play their senior seasons right away. They, along with Pyle, got regular minutes and were offensive contributors for their previous schools.
“We wanted to get some guys that are proven that had great experience.”
Despite having three players transfer, Scholl's roster will now feature four seniors. Eight of his top nine players will be upperclassmen.
“Having that great experience on our roster is very, very exciting,” Scholl added. “I can't wait for that level of competition that we're gonna have on a daily basis next year.”
Or as soon as they're allowed back in the gym - and college sports is put back on the schedule.
“It can sometimes get you down a little bit, but at the end of the day we just have to continue to keep a very positive mindset and not let that happen,” Scholl said. “Keep focusing on whatever the season may look like.”
The Toreros hope to have workouts of some sort on campus next month, while following the necessary health guidelines. First, they must make sure they're able to safely handle having athletes back on campus. Scholl said those on campus got a boost when USD President James Harris said in May that they plan on beginning the fall semester with students present on August 17th.