Haley Van Dyke has no time to wallow in self-pity or regret.
Still, no one would blame the Washington women’s basketball standout if she expressed disappointment after the Huskies were forced to shutter the program for three weeks following a COVID outbreak.
The timing was unfortunate considering UW (5-3) was on a three-game winning streak and had seemingly discovered a winning formula under new coach Tina Langley.
However, Van Dyke understands the effects the coronavirus pandemic has had on the sports world and society in general over the past three years.
“I don’t think any of us really had that (woe is me) thought because it’s kind of happening all over the country right now,” she said this week in a Zoom interview. “It’s just something that everyone has to deal with and everyone has to come across. I think our team did a really good job of staying positive this time and not having those thoughts.
“We’re still doing the best we can to control what we can control.”
That’s good advice for Washington, which renews its season and returns from a 25-day layoff Friday with a Pac-12 opener at UCLA (5-4, 0-1 Pac-12).
The game will be played without fans at Pauley Pavilion after UCLA’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Task Force determined all indoor athletics competitions will be limited to families of team members through Jan. 21.
The Bruins, which have played the least amount of games of any Pac-12 team with the exception of UW, missed three weeks and had six contests scratched due to COVID.
In its first game back, UCLA lost 71-63 at Colorado on Sunday in its conference opener.
The Huskies made it back to the court Tuesday for their first practice and admittedly Langley is unsure how they’ll perform Friday in their first game in three weeks.
“We’re still practicing right now and trying to figure out where everyone is individually,” she said. “Everyone did the best they could in each individual situation that they were in.”
Considering the schedule interruption, it’s inconceivable to think Washington will resemble the team that dominated Nevada during a 58-42 blowout in its last outing.
“Where are we physically?” Langley said. “I don’t think we can know that until we get to the floor.”
Before the Huskies suspended activities, they had several offensive problems. UW ranks last in the Pac-12 in scoring (57.9 points per game) and turnovers (21.1).
Defensively, Washington is first in the conference in opponent’s three-point shooting percentage (25.5%) and fourth in points allowed (56.9).
“We’re going to use this as an opportunity to evaluate where we are again,” Langley said. “We looked at some film of how we were playing before we went down. Man, the growth this team has had is pretty tremendous. So we want to remember where we were and try to pick back up at that place as best as possible.”
Last season, the Huskies had seven games either postponed or canceled due to COVID and the team was shut down for three weeks after several players tested positive for the virus.
“It made it a little bit easier,” Van Dyke said when asked if last season prepared the Huskies for their recent shutdown. “We’re kind of used to this COVID thing. It’s been going on for almost three years at this point.
“We know how to deal with it. We could work out in our houses. They brought us bikes. They brought us equipment. We had more resources to continue to work out and stay in shape during the time when we couldn’t come into the gym. In that sense, we were better prepared for it this year.”
Langley added: “Adversity is a chance for growth. While there were times we couldn’t grow as a team and be on the court together, I do think our culture grew during this time. I thought you could see us really leaning into our values and growing in our camaraderie during the time we couldn’t be together on the court.”
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