COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The Basketball Tournament (TBT) gets underway at Nationwide Arena on Saturday.
Carmen’s Crew, a team made up of mostly former Ohio State Buckeyes, will look to defend its title over the next 10 days, but first they have to get through preliminary health screenings.
“We’re walking into the hotel today and we’re seeing teams leaving and we haven’t even played a game yet!” said Carmen’s Crew forward Dallas Lauderdale. “We literally cannot leave the room. We’ll be in here for the next 24 hours.”
If any member of a TBT team tests positive for the coronavirus, the entire team will not be allowed to play.
“So, once a team starts practicing, a single positive test will remove that team from competition,” said Jon Mugar, TBT founder. “We anticipate that happening quite a bit.”
The first step for all the TBT players once they enter the tournament bubble is receiving a COVID-19 test followed by 24 hours of isolation or until the results come in negative.
“We wanted to put together as de-risked of a version of basketball as we could and really give players the confidence that their opponent on the court would have gone through the same measures of testing that they went through,” Mugar said. “We are requiring every player to go through five consecutive negative tests over an eight-day period. That’s first and foremost and it was really a challenge from day one when it started unfolding in March to see if testing would be available to us.”
The setup at the hotel isn’t all that unfamiliar for the former Buckeyes on Carmen’s Crew. Actually, once isolation is over, the group thinks it’ll be nostalgic.
“When we were all coming to our rooms you know it felt like we were back in the dorms. When we were in college, we stayed in the dorms. We stayed on the same floor,” Lauderdale said with a smile. “Evan Turner is down the hall. Will Buford is right down the hall. It’s exactly the same.”
TBT organizers know that testing is very important, but it’s not the only aspect to making this tournament successful or even possible.
“We know that only gets you about 30 percent of the way there,” Mugar said. “A huge part is how players are acting prior to the tournament. Their vigilance, how they act within the bubble, and then our rules that we created.”
It has created a game within a game because the team that plays the best basketball may not necessarily win in the end.
“It may come down to which team can stay COVID free,” Lauderdale said. “You know it’s going to be a very interesting time. These are unprecedented times and the circumstances are crazy, so we’re literally taking it a day at a time. That’s all we can do.”
Carmen’s Crew has a bye for the first round, so they don’t know who they will face in their first game on July 8. The first round games begin on Saturday, July 4 at Nationwide Arena.