Time Out For Sports: Lady Gamecocks Upset, Panthers Close Down Practice Facility And Changes To Indoor High School Sports
A player with the Charlotte Hornets tests positive for COVID 19, the virus has also hit the Charlotte 49ers hard; jump balls are out for North Carolina high school basketball and the No. 1 Lady Gamecocks lost to NC State. With "All Things Considered" host Gwendolyn Glenn to talk about these topics and more is Langston Wertz Jr., a long-time sportswriter with the Charlotte Observer.
Gwendolyn Glenn: I don’t know about you Langston, but I was surprised that No. 8 NC State’s women’s basketball team beat the No. 1 University of South Carolina’s Lady Gamecocks a few days ago.
Wertz: Yeah, it was a big win for them. I mean, South Carolina shot 28% from the field. Any time you do that, you're going to be in trouble against a good team. And people forget NC State is a top 10 team, very well-coached, very talented and on the come-up.
Glenn: The Lady Gamecocks won against Iowa State 83-65 on Sunday, so do you think the NC State loss was just an off game for them?
Langston: No, I think sometimes when you, you know, you had a long winning streak, you've been No. 1 and everybody's telling you how good you are — sometimes you need a little knock off the pedestal to wake up a little bit. I think maybe this is a wake-up call for South Carolina. They have to listen to the coach. They have to play together.
Glenn: Well, let's move to the COVID-19 positive test. I understand that the Carolina Panthers had a player test positive. Tell us about that.
Wertz: Yeah, some of the big-time media reporters are saying there's two players that tested positive, one of which we know right now is D.J. Moore. The question is, we do not know if he just tested positive alone or he's going to be one of those cases where they have to contact trace other players and put them in protocol as well. The Panthers have two players on the COVID-19 list already, defensive lineman Yetur Gross-Matos and Bruce Hector. So it's yet to be known, what the full impact of the D.J. Moore situation is going to be heading into the Denver game.
Glenn: And I understand the facility is closed today in terms of practice.
Wertz: Yes, it's closed Monday and Tuesday. Just kind of standard protocol when these things happen. And so until we get more information, it's really hard to know exactly what's going to be happening with the Panthers going into Sunday's game.
Glenn: So what's the latest with the Hornets? They had a positive test there as well.
Wertz: Yeah, Malik Monk, former Kentucky star, tested positive. He was one of the 48 NBA players to test positive. The Hornets start preseason games on Dec. 12. They're hoping he'll be back by then. But apparently, this was just a localized case just to him and is not a situation where they have to sit other players.
Glenn: Let’s move to UNC Charlotte and the 49ers who played their first game in over a month Sunday. They lost to Western Kentucky 37-19. They’ve had eight games canceled or postponed because of the pandemic? How is this affecting the team?
Wertz: Ultimately you get rusty. They look like a team who hadn't played in a long time, not being able to feel, not being able to play games. And then, you know the high of "We're finally going to play ... oh, we're not going to play," week after week after week. That takes a toll on you. It just has to.
Glenn: Now the 49ers Coach Will Healy recently revealed that he contracted the virus as well?
Wertz: Yeah. Yeah. He told the Charlotte Observer's Scott Fowler he tested positive and was pretty much asymptomatic. You know, he was like, you know, in the season where my team has been hit so hard, I've been hit hard too. It's just really been a tough season for the Charlotte 49ers. It's almost one of those things we just want to erase the whole thing and do it over.
Glenn: As for public school sports statewide, there were some changes announced last week beyond masks being required due to the pandemic right?
Wertz: Yeah, they're going to as you said, they're going to make masks required for basketball players, as the private schools are doing now. And I haven't heard any negative reports about that. They also announced starting in the 2021 school year that they're going to make a huge change. They're going to go from eight football state championships, back to four. They're going to increase the playoffs from five weeks to six. And they're going to cut the regular seasons from 11 to 10. A lot of schools are unhappy about that because football is their main revenue driver. They're going to take a whole week away in a season that follows a COVID-19 season when they didn't make hardly any revenue at all.
Glenn: And also jump balls? Tell us about that?
Wertz: There's no jump ball this year in basketball. I don't think that's a big deal. I know it's been the talk of Twitter that is going to start with the ball out of bounds. They want to limit body to body contact as much as possible. And I don't know that taking away one play when you're going to have 90 plays of body-to-body contact really is going to make a big difference. But that's the rule they came up with.
Glenn: Let’s talk about something a bit more upbeat. Lake Norman Christian High School basketball player Mikey Williams.
Wertz: Williams looks like a college basketball player right now. He's got a college game, does things you don't see high school kids do. I haven't seen anything like this since Zion Williamson probably. There's just always lots of cameras and lots of people following. This kid has almost 3 million followers on social media, but he also has the game to back it up, which is nice. He's physically gifted, he can jump out of the gym. And, you know, the thing I like about the most though, Gwen, he's level-headed. When things don't go right for him or his team, he doesn't lose it. You know, he doesn't throw a fit. He just kind of takes it all in stride. He just plays his game. I really like that about him. He seems like a level-headed kid, type of kid you like to play with.
Langston Wertz Jr. is a veteran sportswriter for the Charlotte Observer