Florida Southern basketball will return to the court starting this weekend, nearly a year after their last game.
Director of Athletics and Dean of Wellness Drew Howard made the official announcement on Feb. 4 of the return of intercollegiate sports at Florida Southern College.
The women’s team will face Florida Tech at home in the Jenkins Field House Feb. 5 at 6 p.m. and again on Feb. 7 at noon, also at home.
“We have been working non-stop this year with the hopes of competition and it’s finally here, so I’m just eager to get out there and play,” freshman women’s basketball player Maddy Morales said.
The men’s team will play their first two games back also against Florida Tech, but those game dates and times have yet to be released.
No fans will be permitted at any sporting event at FSC this spring. The basketball games will be live streamed on the SSC website.
The Sunshine State Conference (SSC) Presidents Council met this week and decided that “conference institutions may compete in basketball as a matter of institutional discretion during the spring 2021 semester,” as per the update released on Feb. 4.
In December, the SSC had previously announced the start of the basketball season was to be postponed until at least Feb. 15. Now with the new decision, teams are able to start competing before that date in aspirations of participating in the 2021 NCAA Division II Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships, which are set to take place in March.
“A lot of time and effort has gone into this process,” Howard said in the news release. “Without the leadership of President Anne Kerr, and the dedication of our staff, coaches, and student-athletes, we would not be where we are today.”
The team was ranked highly in many pre-season polls, as well as placing fourth in the recent poll released by the National Association of Basketball Coaches on Dec. 8.
“When you’ve been working since September, and you’re preparing for a season, February 15th is two months away, that seems like an eternity away from happening, so that’s kind of hard to digest right now,” Men’s Basketball Head Coach Mike Donnelly said in December.
Florida Southern’s Men’s Basketball team took part in the resocialization plan that was devised by the athletic department at the school, which essentially called for a series of phases in return to practicing under normal conditions.
The first phase was “phase zero,” where the players were only allowed to shoot at their own basket, by themselves with no shared equipment.
During phase one, the players were allowed to work one-on-one with a coach. Transitioning into phase two, the players could work in pods of five, with no contact, but shared equipment was allowed. In phase three, the team was allowed to work in groups of ten, with full contact.
Phase four began for the Mocs on Nov. 2, which consisted of full contact, and the first fully unlimited team practice was Nov. 12.
“It was a struggle to get through all of those phases,” Donnelly said. “We were making a lot of progress and just preparing as normal to get ready for the year”.
The team finished the 2019-2020 season on top of the SSC, defeating Nova Southeastern in the championship game to win their 25th SSC title. The Mocs haven’t lost in regulation since November of 2019, ending the season on a 17-game winning streak en route to earning the first overall seed in the South region of the Division II tournament. The promising 2020 tournament would have begun with a series of games hosted by Florida Southern before the entire postseason was cancelled in March.
“We’re going to come out with a chip on our shoulder riding that 17-game winning streak and try to keep it going this year,” fifth-year player and team captain Jacob Schner said.
FSC is offering fan cutouts to be displayed at both the men’s and women’s basketball games. According to the news release, fans should contact Josh Franklin at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.