PONTIFICATING FROM THE SUNSHINE STATE – JUNE 18
By Leo Haggerty

BULLS HOOPS TALK – PART 2

First of all, and I will start EVERY article with this paragraph, sports pales in comparison with what is occurring with the Coronavirus. Hopefully, the columns that I, and the rest of our correspondents, provide you is a momentary escape from the trials and tribulations that Americans, and the rest of the world’s population, are experiencing. The COVID-19 is not a video game that you can press reset and get a new life. This is real and dangerous so, above all, be prudent and stay safe.

Ok, let’s go to Part 2 of Bulls Hoops talk.  Below are the questions I posed to USF Men’s Basketball Coach Brian Gregory and a lot of really good answers from the South Florida roundball boss.  Enjoy.

LH : How are you dealing with parental concerns over Covid-19?

BG : I think that we have done a really good job of communication.  That’s been the big key.  We’ve had multiple Zoom meeting with the parents.  A lot of contact with the parents with either Facetime calls or one-on-one calls and things like that.  We’ve gone above and beyond with some of the stuff to make sure our parents know that we are going to do everything we can to keep our guys safe.  The biggest thing with that is to let them know about what are the procedures that we have in place.  I think our athletic department, as a whole, and our university, as a whole, have done a great job of setting up the guidelines.  Now, it’s just up to us to follow them.  You know, I’ve had parents that ask me stuff and I have a daughter that’s going to be a freshmen in college and she’s going, she’s going.  They’re going to have classes and I’m learning more as that goes on.  So, a lot of the things I learn, as a parent, then I share with our parents.  Will there be classes?  Will it be remote learning?  Just things like that.  The biggest thing is to just stay in constant communication to answer any questions and, anything that I don’t know, I find out and get back to them because there’s a lot of stuff that I still don’t know.

LH : How bad was if for you and your team to not even have a chance to play in March?

BG : They way it went down for us, it was 40 minutes before we were going to play.  I always say that our guys were ready to go and it was a tough deal to have to tell them that.  I think, at that time, no one knew what that was going to mean and I was one of them.  Should they cancel the NCAA tournament?  Should they wait a couple of weeks?  Obviously, it was the right decision.  I think one thing that you have to do is to take a step back and, for us as a program, to see the areas that we improved in and the areas that we need to dramatically improve in.  We need to take this time to put ourselves in position to set us a game plan to attack as we move forward to this year.  Again, you have to be able to plan it but you have to stay flexible because there is no exact formula for what’s going to happen in the next month from now or two months from now or three months from now and things like that.  The one benefit for us is that we have a good portion of our team coming back.

LH : I asked Coach Arians this same question and, I know your not 67, but what are you doing to stay safe during the pandemic?

BG : You know I was down when I was sitting at home and then I thought that there are worst places to be quarantined than Tampa, Florida.  You know what I mean.  You can get outside.  You have to struggle to be positive during this time and find things.  What an unbelievable opportunity for me to spend all that time with my family.  With a daughter leaving for college and another one that’s going to be a sophomore in high school, this job sometimes creates a disconnect with that.  To be able to reconnect like lunches together.  I didn’t even know you could do that.  You know what I mean and, obviously, a lot of dinners and different things like that.  I wear a mask whenever I am inside anywhere.  Also, following social distancing and, I think, one of the biggest challenges right now is that America needs a little greater endurance.  Right now.  You know, we have to stay on this and its something where the message needs to be clearly sent.  I go out and I see, and I know you have the freedom and all that stuff, but you are doing it for other people.  To keep other people safe.  I think it’s important to keep doing what we are suppose to be doing and, if we do that, we can keep fighting this thing.

LH : Have you lost weight or gained weight?

BG : I don’t know about that but, I can tell you, I’m in better shape.  I know that because I’ve been working out which has been good.  The family has been working out so it’s been good.  I’ve been taking care of myself which has been good.  You don’t get this very often.  It’s a rejuvenation period when it comes to that.  I’ve watched a ton of film.  I had another coach tell me that they are about Zoomed out.  It’s been good.  It’s been a different way to connect.  It’s been an opportunity to learn some different methods of connecting with people.  Connecting with your players, with families, with recruits, with boosters.  I think there have been some things that we learned.  You never want to say we went through this and there’s positives but there have been some changes that were needed to be made and, hopefully, they are changes for the better.

LH : You have schools like Cincinnati and Temple that are right in the middle of the pandemic.  Do  you think scheduling could be a problem?

BG : Again, it’s going to be something that will be talked about down the road in terms of that.  Looking at overall conference scheduling, we do go to some places that would be considered hot spots and different things like that.  You know, this thing has changed so dramatically.  Just think about where we were 30 days ago compared to now.  We have to see where we’re at come January and February and March.  That’s when those games will occur.  There could be some alterations with it and that remains to be seen.