McNeese Cowgirls to miss Southland tourney due to COVID

The McNeese State’s women’s basketball team will not be heading to Texas next week.

After several players tested positive for COVID upon their return from break, the Cowgirls will be forced to miss their three games at the Southland Conference preseason tournament.

McNeese was scheduled to open play against Southeastern, the SLC’s preseason favorite. The game was set for Monday at the Merrell Center in Katy, Texas. 

“It is disappointing for us,” said McNeese Athletic Director Heath Schroyer. “Our players are frustrated and our coaches are frustrated.”

The Cowgirls were looking to rebound from a 4-8 start that saw them play a tough non conference schedule mostly on the road. They traveled to California and Oregon to take on Pac 10 opponents and also played at Mississippi State.

First-year head coach Lynn Kennedy used the tough schedule to prepare his team for what he hopes is a big post New Year run.

“If you look around the country a lot of things have been happening and it was just a matter of time before it hit closer to home,” said Kennedy. “We are disappointed that we can’t play in the tournament and see what the Southland Conference is like.” 

While some of the Cowgirls will be able to return to the practice floor this weekend, they will not have enough for a full practice until likely Wednesday. Kennedy would not give the number of players who have tested or are in the protocol but said he could not have put five on the floor Monday to even start a game.

“Really, the important thing now is to get ourselves healthy for when the conference season begins,” Kennedy said. “It is what it is. We have all learned this over the last two seasons and had to deal with this.”

The men’s team currently had three players in the protocol but was able to play on Thursday and are scheduled to take part in the men’s portion of the preseason tourney starting later next week.

“It’s just a tough situation for everybody,” said Schroyer who added that 93 percent of McNeese’s players on both the men’s and women’s teams have been vaccinated.

Last season both McNeese basketball teams were shut down by COVID during the season. At that time it was a 10-day layoff. Several other games were canceled or moved during the season as just about every Southland Conference team dealt with the pandemic and positive tests.

Schroyer said he and Kennedy will be looking over the schedule and will try to find some games to play if possible. He said it will be tough as teams are now concerned about their own leagues and squeezing games in will be even harder.

McNeese was hoping to use the 3-game set to springboard his club into a run at the Southland title.

“We will have to use the practice time to get ready once we start getting pieces back to practice,” said Kennedy. 

McNeese will hope SLC play Jan. 15 against Houston Baptist when they re-open the Legacy Center. 

“We are looking forward to getting back in our gym,” said Kennedy. “We can then put this behind us.”

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