When asked about playing at 11 a.m. on Friday and Saturday at Loyola, SIU women’s basketball coach Cindy Stein was philosophical.
“Got to play the hand you’re dealt,” she said.
That hand was discarded Thursday, replaced by one the Salukis have gotten to know all too well this season.
SIU’s Missouri Valley Conference series at Loyola, as well as a two-game home series next weekend with Valparaiso at Banterra Center, were postponed after the Saluki program logged positive COVID-19 tests on Wednesday. SIU has now had more games postponed or canceled than it’s been able to play.
The Loyola games were rescheduled for Jan. 30-31 in Chicago, while the series with Valpo will be played Feb. 27-28 in Carbondale. The positive test results continue a season-long battle with the pandemic that shut down the Valley tournament last March and delayed the start of this season until Nov. 25.
SIU played that day and lost 65-52 to Eastern Michigan, then paused its program for seven days after positive coronavirus tests. That wiped out a trip to Memphis and the team’s yearly appearance in the Compass Challenge at Eastern Illinois.
When the Salukis resumed basketball activity, they picked up a non-conference game on Dec. 11 against Saint Louis. But the Billikens’ program had to pause after experiencing positive COVID-19 tests.
SIU was able to play on Dec. 12 and 13, sweeping home games against Austin Peay and Southeast Missouri State. But its Dec. 15 date at UT Martin was canceled following a positive test in the Skyhawks’ program.
After winning on Dec. 17 against Kansas City and falling at Missouri on Dec. 20 in a game arranged on 72 hours’ notice, the Salukis bused to Illinois for a game on Dec. 22. But 5 ½ hours before the scheduled 2 p.m. tip-off, a false positive test in the team hotel erased that game.
SIU returned to action on Jan. 1-2 with a Valley sweep of Evansville, but played that series with only nine players because seniors Abby Brockmeyer and Makenzie Silvey sat out due to COVID-19 protocol.
Both returned for last weekend’s losses at Bradley. Players who aren’t presently in quarantine practiced Thursday and will work out on Friday. The earliest that players who are now quarantined can work out is Jan. 29, depending on if they still have symptoms.
The Salukis’ next scheduled game is not until Jan. 27, when they visit Missouri State. SIU has played nine games this year, going 5-4 overall and 2-2 in the conference.
The latest string of postponements means they have had 10 games postponed or canceled.
Men’s games rescheduled
The Valley announced Thursday that it has rescheduled SIU’s postponed series against Indiana State and Valparaiso.
The Salukis (7-3, 1-3) will visit Indiana State Jan. 25-26, playing at 6 p.m. Central time on the 25th and 4 p.m. on the 26th. They will host Valpo on Feb. 20-21, with the tip times set for either 4 or 7 p.m. both days.
SIU is scheduled to return to action on Jan. 21 at Missouri State, provided there are no further positive tests between now and then. If that date holds up, the team will have gone 17 days between games.