PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Jay Wright’s plan to resume coaching No. 3 Villanova following a bout with COVID-19 was put on hold Monday when two players tested positive for the coronavirus, forcing the program to postpone its next three games.
The Wildcats (8-1) were scheduled to play Tuesday at DePaul, Friday vs. Marquette and Jan. 13 at Xavier. No makeup dates have been announced.
“We are one of the unfortunate ones right now,” Wright said Monday.
The Wildcats are the latest team to have their season thrown into disarray by the pandemic, though Wright has remained steadfast that the season should continue. The Wildcats are tested daily and practiced Sunday without any positive test results. Then came Monday’s results — Wright said the two unidentified players who tested positive have symptoms and learned of their results before the Wildcats were set to travel to DePaul.
“We were suited up for practice,” Wright said. “We just kind of assumed everybody would be negative. We were dressed and ready for practice.”
A two-time national championship coach, Wright went into isolation after he tested positive on Dec. 26. The program checked players into individual hotel rooms over the holiday break from Dec. 26 to Jan. 2 and were not allowed to have outside contact with anyone. The Wildcats were allowed to meet with their families at a masked, socially distanced event on Dec. 24-25 at their on-campus arena. There were no positive tests over that span.
“No players did anything wrong,” Wright said. “A couple of staff members tested positive on the 26th, 27th, but they were not with the players. They were isolated.”
Wright said he had avoided social gatherings, always wore a mask and was unsure exactly how he contracted the coronavirus. He said he had all the major symptoms and described his physical state as “like having a bad case of the flu.”
“What’s sad is, this started with me and now the players have to go through it,” he said.
The Wildcats had to pause activities before the season even started and opened with four consecutive games in a “bubble environment” at the Mohegan Sun resort casino in Connecticut.
They were the preseason favorites to win the Big East and looked every bit like a team that could add another national championship following the ones won under Wright in 2016 and 2018. They now have these three conference games to reschedule, along with an already postponed Dec. 30 game against St. John’s. The Wildcats are optimistic they can be ready for an NCAA Tournament being played entirely in Indiana.
Villanova hasn’t played since a Dec. 23 win at Marquette.
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