By Arnie Leshin
The New Mexico State men’s and women’s basketball programs have found a way to overcome the state’s current public health guidelines that do not allow workouts or games exceeding five people.
“We are going to take our teams to Arizona,” says Aggies’ Athletic Director Mario Moccia. “We are temporarily going to move to Phoenix because of our state’s stringent coronavirus pandemic restrictions. We are following the lead of UNM, which has already played three of its football games out of state, and has settled into Las Vegas, Nev., for the same reason.”
Moccia adds that far from its first opinion, it is pleasing that it has found such a tremendous opportunity to prepare for the upcoming season in Phoenix.
“It’s approximately a five-hour drive from Las Cruces to he Arizona Grand”, Moccia says. “That will provide the ability for our teams and coaches to isolate as much as possible while having virtually unlimited access to a court.”
For the men, NMSU had looked at three sites in Las Vegas and Arizona before deciding to move its entire operation to the Arizona Grand Resort & Spa in Phoenix. The Aggies will practice and stay at the hotel, and are looking at various places to play games in the Phoenix area. They are the initial basketball program in the country to move out of state during the pandemic, but could soon be followed by UNM’s men’s and women’s basketball teams, both of whom are trying to finalize deals at undisclosed locations outside New Mexico.
And anyone who travels from outside the state also must quarantine for 14 days, as well as all Aggie players and coaches to continue to be tested for COVID-19 three times a week while in Arizona. The women’s team is planning to practice in Tucson, Ariz., and is looking to at various places to play, including just over the Texas state line at UTEP. Both the women and men are hoping to play their games around the Thanksgiving holidays.
Happy hoops to all, there will be travel, but the main thing is getting to take the court if not here, but elsewhere.