UNC Wilmington men’s basketball team officially begins fall practice
Eastern NC’s Shykeim Phillips and Imagae Dodd among Seahawks preparing for basketball season amid positive COVID cases in other team sports on campus
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WITN) - With the Colonial Athletic Association ledger solidified, the UNCW men’s basketball team kicked off fall practice on Wednesday with a new look and a new coaching staff.
It marked the first official practice for first-year head coach Takayo Siddle, who was named to lead the program back on March 13. The Eden, N.C., native served as an assistant coach on UNCW’s CAA championship teams under Kevin Keatts in 2016 and 2017.
“Things aren’t really different for us today since we’ve been getting after it for the last couple weeks,” said Siddle. "Nothing has changed with the level of excitement. Anytime we can get in here together is exciting for us, and we look forward to it.
As for dealing with COVID-19 cases on campus, Coach Takayo Siddle said that the coronavirus is something the coaching staff talks to the players about daily.
“We talk to our guys about that a lot,” said Siddle. “We are making sure that they are wearing their masks all the time. We’re making sure they’re staying clean, washing their hands and showering all the time, and disinfecting the locker room. We are doing our part on our end as a coaching staff and as a university. And, they have to take ownership in it—and I think for the most part they have.”
Players believe the decisions they make will determine whether they have a season or not.
“I hope we play,” said guard Mike Okauru. “We are just taking it day by day.”
COVID-19 concerns grew on UNCW’s campus after some players from men’s soccer and softball, women’s basketball, and the swim and dive teams tested positive for the virus.
“We feel bad for those other programs,” said forward Ian Steere. “It also puts it in perspective that we have to be safe. You never know, it could happen to us, so you have to go that extra mile to stay safe.”
Because the team isn’t playing games, they are not being tested regularly but are getting ready for what will happen once the season starts on November 25.
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