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YSU’s men’s basketball players remain home

Patient Calhoun considers July return

Youngstown State University men’s basketball coach Jerrod Calhoun is well aware that the NCAA is allowing a portion of student-athletes to come back to campus starting Monday.

He knows all the guidelines and restrictions that are in place; and he knows what he and his coaches can and can’t do during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

His full understanding of the situation is why Calhoun doesn’t plan on having his team return to the campus — not yet at least.

“It’s exciting that they’re able to voluntarily come back,” Calhoun said, “but it doesn’t make a lot of sense to bring them back under these circumstances. Basketball is a very long season, so we’re being very, very patient and seeing what the NCAA is going to allow us to do.”

Right now, it’s not much.

The NCAA announced last week that student-athletes in football and men’s and women’s basketball are allowed to participate in voluntary athletic activities starting Monday. The facilities had been closed since mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

As of now, no weight room or lifting equipment can be utilized. All the training will take place outside and will gradually move indoors. Calhoun and the majority of his staff cannot instruct the players. Only strength and conditioning coordinators and trainers are allowed to be present.

“It’s outside stuff for the first two weeks, and then I believe Week 3 in June you’re able to do the weight room,” Calhoun said. “They’re doing it in phases, so I think the first two weeks (they would be) outside on the field, stretching, using bands, running, and then Week 3 would be the weight room.”

There are restrictions put in place by the university.

YSU sports information director Trevor Parks said the training sessions must consist of fewer than 10 student-athletes. All of their temperatures will be taken prior to entering the facility. Trainers and other staff members are required to wear face coverings during the workouts. Student-athletes must wear them at all times other than when they’re taking part in drills.

Calhoun, who has team meetings via Zoom twice a week, said they’re going to allow the players to continue working out on their own for at least the next few weeks.

“We have a lot of self motivators,” he said, “and a lot of the gyms are starting to open up where our players are at, so they’re certainly getting back to working out on their own.”

The team usually would be taking part in summer camps during June. The players and coaches instruct and set up for the camps, which bring in young athletes of all ages. When that two-week span is up, the YSU players would hit the weight room for an additional two weeks and take a short break for the Fourth of July holiday.

Calhoun said coaches are allowed to spend two hours per week instructing players during the summer, and they begin that period when they return from the holiday. Since coaches are not currently allowed to work with players on the court because of the pandemic, the two-hour period is not allowed.

That could change over the next month.

“As of right now, we’re still in a waiting pattern to see if the NCAA is going to allow us to actually work with them on the court,” he said. “So, we’ve been having a lot of Horizon League calls, and there are just a few programs in the league that have talked about bringing their guys back in July, at some point.

“We’re in a waiting pattern to see what happens over the next month and possibly bring them back after the July 4 holiday.”

He said his players are anxious to return, and Calhoun is excited to build off of last year’s 18-15 campaign. They’re just waiting for the right time.

“They are (used to a) routine, so they’re used to being here,” he said. “I think they are getting antsy to come back. We’ve been doing our team Zoom calls twice a week. They are getting antsy to get back and see one another and get back in the team philosophy.”

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