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UCLA coach Mick Cronin is confident coronavirus won’t jeopardize next season

UCLA coach Mick Cronin speaks at a news conference.
UCLA coach Mick Cronin believes the Bruins will be playing basketball next fall, but he believes the coronavirus could keep fans from attending games.
(Jayne Kamin-Oncea / Getty Images)

With more than six months buffering the scheduled start of UCLA’s basketball season from the novel coronavirus outbreak, coach Mick Cronin is hopeful that the show will go on inside Pauley Pavilion.

“I’m confident that we’re going to play our season,” Cronin said Friday during a live Facebook chat from the living room of his Encino home. “I don’t know where that goes with fans [being allowed to attend games], but I think it goes hand in hand. I don’t think you see games without fans. I’m a positive guy, so I’m on the positive side.”

UCLA’s season was abruptly halted last month before the Bruins could play their first game in the Pac-12 Conference tournament after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus. The Bruins learned shortly thereafter that the NCAA tournament had been canceled as part of a widespread shutdown of sports that have yet to resume in the United States.

When sports returns there could be big changes -- face masks, thermometers and social distancing -- in order to protect everyone from the coronavirus.

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The NBA and NHL are still contemplating ways to save their seasons, or at least the playoff portion, and Major League Baseball has yet to start its season. The NFL and college football have not announced any definitive plans for seasons that are scheduled to start in the fall. Next up on the sports schedule would be the 2020-21 NHL, NBA and college basketball seasons.

“If there’s minor delays, those could be possible,” Cronin said, “but I talk to NBA people and they still think they’re going to play their playoffs, so if they play the playoffs in the summer, what does that tell you? That we’re going to play.”

UCLA’s schedule next season includes a home game against Marquette and a road game against Nevada Las Vegas, Cronin said. The Bruins will also play Kentucky as part of the CBS Sports Classic in New York and will play in the Wooden Legacy at the Anaheim Convention Center as part of a field that also includes Kansas, Georgetown and Virginia.

UCLA will also play 20 Pac-12 games for the first time as part of an expanded conference schedule.


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