FGCU women’s basketball was 30-3 (15-1) and had lost one game since December when its season ended.
As the Atlantic Sun regular season champions, the Eagles were set to host No. 3 seed Liberty in the ASUN Tournament Final to make their inclusion into the 2020 NCAA Tournament official, though an at-large bid was well within reach. ESPN’s Charlie Creme had FGCU as a No. 9 seed in the Big Dance in his final bracketology entry of the season, and even with a loss in the conference tournament title game, its very possible the Eagles would have found themselves dancing anyway.
But, FGCU women’s basketball, along with countless other men’s and women’s teams around the world, didn’t get to complete its campaign in the face of the coronavirus crisis.
We heard from FGCU women’s basketball head coach Karl Smesko about how he and his team are handling this situation.
Q&A with FGCU Women’s Basketball Head Coach Karl Smesko
How are you and your family holding up through all of this?
Karl Smesko: We are enjoying the extra time we are spending with each other.
At what point did this sink in for you that things weren’t okay and that the normalcy of life was going to end for an indefinite period of time?
KS: As soon as the NBA postponed its season.
What have you been telling your players? How hard was it to tell them that they would not be playing in the NCAA Tournament after all?
KS: We decided to celebrate our outstanding regular season including the ASUN championship rather than dwell on things out of our control.
What is the most difficult part of this for you?
KS: To think about all the people who are suffering due to the virus.
How do you intend to carry forward with your responsibilities as a coach, to your current players, in recruiting, preparing for next season and so on? Is that something you’re even thinking about right now?
KS: We are continuing to recruit to the extent permissible by the NCAA, and we are trying to make sure our players are staying on top of their academic responsibilities.
What do you think your players can learn from this? What do you think you can learn from this? What do you think this country and the world at large can learn from this?
KS: Hopefully our players learn to take nothing for granted. I am learning to appreciate things more. Hopefully our country and the world are learning how important preparation, good information, and science are.
In the post-game press conference for the conference tournament semifinal, before the season was cancelled, Smesko addressed a question about the possibility of the final being called off. The question is asked at the 3:20 mark of video below.
“No one has told me anything, and I’m sure no one’s going to ask my opinion on it,” he said. “We need to rely on scientists and people who are going to make the best decisions for everybody’s safety, and whatever they decide, we’re going to go with obviously. We understand that some of this is just out of our hands. We’ll just see what happens.”