“They wanted to play, they were ready to play,” Pastner said. “But, 2020. It’s not UAB’s fault. They wanted to play, too. It’s just COVID.”
On the bus ride home from Birmingham on Tuesday night, Pastner reached out to a handful of colleagues in hopes of scheduling another game for Wednesday night, to no avail.
“I was calling some teams, but a lot of teams had already sent their guys home,” he said.
An additional hurdle was that any opponent would have had to meet the ACC’s COVID-19 protocol, which includes three tests in the week before the competition. As of Wednesday, Pastner hadn’t given up on finding an opponent for Dec. 27, but estimated the chances of success at less than 5%.
Barring more games being canceled or postponed, Tech has one open window to add another game once ACC play begins. The Jackets have no games between Jan. 30 and Feb. 6, a Saturday-Saturday stretch.
“I was thinking we could even do another ACC game and count it as non-conference,” Pastner said.
With no UAB game, Pastner’s plan was to practice the team Wednesday and release players to go home and reconvene Dec. 26. Players and staff will be tested that day and can begin practice again Dec. 27. Pastner plans for the team to have double-practice days Dec. 27-29 up until the game with the Tar Heels on Dec. 30.
Since the Jackets began the season with losses to Georgia State and Mercer, Pastner has been putting the team through a heavy practice schedule because he had practiced through much of the preseason on a non-contact basis out of a concern that a positive COVID test would sideline the entire team for two weeks through contact tracing. The ACC’s adoption of proximity-measuring technology gave Pastner the impetus to change course and reinstate contact practices.
“We’re not even in November yet in terms of where we’d be in a normal contact practice year,” he said.