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Teams face likely loss of summer basketball camps

Douglas Fritz • May 26, 2020 at 1:00 PM

Summer basketball is a time-bonded tradition, where high school teams basically play a mini-season to see what they will look like in the fall.

But because of the coronavirus pandemic, summer team camps likely won’t happen this year.

As far as the impact, it’s the same for everybody, said coaches Mike Poe of Volunteer and Austin Atwood of Johnson County.

School systems in the area will open practice facilities on June 1 for all sports, but strict guidelines won’t allow teams to travel to basketball camps — or even play against area schools.

“From the first of June, you only have 22 days anyway before the dead period,” Poe said. “And after the dead period, you’re not allowed to play. So I don’t see any way we could do anything. We talked in March about trying to have a summer schedule, even if we had to play Science Hill and Dobyns-Bennett 10 times. But I don’t see that happening now, either.”

This is true even though Northeast Tennessee hasn’t been hit as hard as places like Chattanooga, Nashville and Memphis.

“They have greater numbers of cases than we have up here,” Poe said. “We haven’t had the impact of some of the bigger inner cities.”

If the TSSAA relaxed its rules and allowed basketball teams to play after the dead period, it still wouldn’t change the dynamic at a place like Volunteer. Poe said he wouldn’t have basketball kids participating in team camps when those who also play football were not available.

The loss of summer games will hurt his team’s experience level when the fall rolls around, he said.

“It will be detrimental for our young guards, who needed to play,” Poe said. “It’s not like we’ve got an experienced club coming back, so that’s hurtful for us.”

Atwood said teams that stand to lose the most are the ones that expected to be at the top of the ladder in 2020-21.

“Teams that were going to be really good, it will be harder on them,” Atwood said. “Teams like us, that are rebuilding anyway, it probably won’t be near as hard.”

Team chemistry will suffer the most, Atwood said.

“The summer was a chance to see what each player could bring to the table, to see if they could produce minutes on the varsity,” he said. “And it allowed the kids to play together.

“We might go somewhere and stay a night or two, and get some camaraderie going. That was the biggest part for us.”

When basketball season opens for practice in November, Poe said teams will simply adapt.

“I guess this is a little bit of the college coach coming out in me, but if you are a basketball player you can either play or you can’t,” he said. “They will get shots up somewhere. In college we weren’t allowed to do anything in the summer. I learned early on, if you can play you will be OK.”

One thing Poe said his team will miss is the installment of the offense and defense.

“We will only have 2½ weeks to get the offense and defense in,” Poe said. “That’s the only thing that bothers me.”

Email Douglas Fritz at dfritz@johnsoncitypress.com.

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