In some ways life seems pretty normal for East Carolina basketball coach Joe Dooley as he goes through a quarantine period during the pandemic.
“I’m good,” Dooley said. “So far, so good.”
Dooley has been asymptomatic since testing positive for COVID-19 on Saturday. He answered his cell phone on Thursday afternoon.
“I’m actually out walking the dogs right now,” he said. “I’ve got a German Shepherd named Sam and a boxer named Oz. We got him in Kansas so he was the Wizard of Oz. … We’ve had him for eight years.”
Dooley was an assistant for the Jayhawks when they won the NCAA Tournament in 2008.
The Pirates coach thinks he may have gotten the coronavirus from his son, Max, a junior for John Paul II High School in Greenville.
“If I had to bet, I’d probably bet I got it from my son,” Dooley said. “My son’s testing (Thursday), but he had three teammates and two coaches test positive since Friday.”
Like the rest of the world, Dooley hopes there’s a light at the end of the tunnel as far as COVID is concerned.
“I do think they’re rolling out the shots,” Dooley said. “My father went and got the vaccination today and a couple of guys on our staff went and got it in the last couple of days.”
ECU has been out of action since a 69-63 home loss to South Florida on Jan. 9. The Pirates are scheduled to host Memphis on Sunday at 4 p.m.
“Pending testing, we’re going to be without some guys,” Dooley said. “But pending testing, we’re planning on playing the game.”
Dooley will be able to watch the game on ESPN2.
“I’m out,” he said. “I won’t coach Sunday.”
He will not even be able to text acting coach Steve Roccaforte during the American Athletic Conference matchup with the Tigers.
“You can’t do anything electronically during the game.” Dooley said. ” … The rules were well-intentioned, but they weren’t intended for the pandemic.”
ECU (7-3, 1-3 AAC) is trying to prepare as normally as possible for Memphis (7-5, 3-2).
“We’ll keep our regular routine,” Dooley said. “We’ll do the scouting report. I have Zoom with the guys before their practice. I’ll watch it and we’ll meet (Friday) morning as a staff to go over the Memphis scouting report. We’ll do how we usually do. We’ll prepare a practice.
“During practice, I do text our (operations) guy or one of the managers and have them stop or have the coaches redo something. During practice I can get things redone. Obviously, I can see things.
“The important thing is going to be conditioning. Right now, we don’t have enough guys to go 5-on-5 in practice. You’re just trying not to get guys hurt. That’s another factor in this situation.
“We hadn’t practiced last Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. And then Tuesday, we were able to do individual skills stuff. Tuesday and Wednesday. (Thursday) is the first day we can do more than two guys on the court.
“This whole thing has been a situation where we’ve had to adjust on the fly.”
In contrast, the Tigers have managed to stay healthy.
(Memphis) has actually added a guy,” Dooley said. “One of their high school recruits just enrolled. To the best of our knowledge, I don’t think Memphis has been shut down or missed anybody yet. … They’re going to play Wichita (State, Thursday night) so we’re going to watch that and then we’ll have a little bit better feel.”
The Tigers turned back the visiting Shockers, 72-52, on Thursday night.
“They’re very talented,” Dooley said. “They’ve got a number of 4- and 5-star recruits. … Their defensive numbers are very good. Very long and athletic.”
Games have been few and far between for ECU.
“One of the things is getting adjusted back to the speed of the game and then, their athleticism. It’s a little bit of a combination. They’re turning you over quite a bit. Turnovers turn into transition. The other part you have to really get on is the offensive backboard so we need to work hard there.”
Dooley declined to say who specifically would be out for the Pirates, not wanting to tip ECU’s hand for Sunday.
“They’ll figure it out in about two minutes in warm-ups,” he said.
The pace will be picking up for the Pirates if COVID doesn’t make another sweep through the roster.
“If we play on Sunday, it will be our third game in 34 days,” Dooley said. “And then we go Sunday, Wednesday (at Central Florida), Saturday (Tulsa). Then you start adding other games. … It will be five games in 10 days. The kids aren’t used to this. The kids could get hurt. This is what the NBA is complaining about. The NBA guys are complaining about getting hurt because the guys are playing too many games.”
Until recently, it was ECU’s opponents who had generated cancellations and postponements.
“We had done really well,” Dooley said. “We had had one case since August.”
ECU is No. 129 in the NCAA’s NET rankings. Memphis is No. 112 as of Jan. 20. Houston is the highest ranked American team at No. 5.
“They’re in (the NCAA Tournament),” Dooley said of the Cougars. “It will be an interesting rest of the ride.”
Dooley is hopeful of being back with his team next week. He tested positive on Jan. 17, but his count began Sunday, leaving some doubt as to whether he could be back by Wednesday for the game at Central Florida.
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