It all happened too fast.
The American Athletic Conference canceled its post-season tournaments due to concerns of the circulation of COVID-19 at 10:45 a.m. on Thursday morning.
Next came the Big 10 Conference, who confirmed it would be cancelling its tournaments at 10:47 a.m. The SEC decided at 10:49 a.m.
Meanwhile, the Cyclones were getting ready to take the floor to practice and prepare for its scheduled matchup with Kansas State on Friday.
They didn’t even make it to the court.
“We kind of sensed it was coming,” Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said. “We were supposed to practice at 11:10 a.m. and we found out at 11:00 a.m. There was a lot of tears. We were just trying to figure out what to do next.”
Before leaving the arena, Fennelly talked to his players – preparing them in case they had they played the last games of their college careers.
“I hope not, but I walked over to the seniors and told them, ‘We’ve got to understand, in a surreal way, the last game you played was beating Baylor in Hilton.’”
It wasn’t hard to sense the tone of Fennelly’s voice.
This news hurt. It’s hurt everyone.
“I feel bad,” Fennelly said. “Obviously, you’re worried about people’s health. You hope the people that are making decisions are getting the information they need. It’s just hard. There’s a lot of tears in the locker room.”
Iowa State had a special squad this season on the women’s side, one that has been reveled as one of Fennelly’s greatest works.
It’s also one that has been one of his favorites to coach. It almost seems unfair that they might not get to finish the season.
“It’s obviously a decision that needed to be made and it’s unfortunate this happened, but I don’t know if they could do anything different,” Fennelly said.
The toughest thing for him was trying to find out what to do next and put some reasoning to the news.
There isn’t any though. There’s no clear-cut way to go about this.
“In my opinion, my job has (always been about) explaining why things happen to kids,” Fennelly said. “I don’t have one for this.”
Seemingly since Wednesday evening when the news of the NBA’s Rudy Gobert testing positive for the virus hit, the dominoes started to fall.
It was a matter of which domino belonged to college basketball.
“We were on the bus coming down yesterday and every five minutes, I was getting another text about it,” Fennelly said. “It was escalating at a rapid rate. Once one conference does it, you kind of have to agree.”
Nearly the rest of the division 1 college basketball conferences followed suit by the end of the hour, and Fennelly’s Iowa State team made its way back to the hotel.
Iowa State will eventually head back to Ames, but there’s no telling where this is going next.
There’s nothing to say that we won’t see a pair of NCAA Selection Show at the start of next week – and Fennelly wants to.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Fennelly said. “I don’t think anyone does. I think the way this is going, you have to anticipate the fact (there might not) be a NCAA Tournament. If there isn’t, I at least hope they have a selection show so that the kids can see their names if they made it. I’m sure that’s the furthest thing on anyone’s mind right now.”
Now, as leagues around the country cancel games and pause seasons, all that’s left to do is wait.