While NCAA Division I women’s basketball has a start date of Nov. 25 and most teams have been practicing since August, the Ivy League has not yet committed to playing this season. All undergraduate courses for Columbia University are happening virtually this semester and student-athletes are not residing on campus. This means that Columbia women’s basketball is in a holding pattern.
“We don’t have our players on campus,” said head coach Megan Griffith. “They’re training for the season still. We haven’t made a decision. Our presidents [the Columbia /Barnard athletic consortium includes three undergraduate colleges] are kind of in talks this month and next month, trying to figure out what’s best for everybody involved.”
Griffith and her staff are keeping in regular contact with the players, who are studying virtually while working to be game-ready. The players, who come from across the U.S., are in various locations. Some remain at home, while others have relocated to be near a training center.
“The one thing that’s great about our young women is that they really take advantage of whatever opportunity is in their path,” said Griffith. “They’re trying to be creative and work with what they’ve got.”
The 2019-’20 season was the breakthrough that the Lions have been working toward since Griffith became the head coach in 2016. The team had a winning record both overall and in conference play, qualifying for the Ivy League Tournament for the first time. The returning players remain intent on keeping the forward momentum going.
“Just like we would if they were on campus, we have our return to playing protocols,” said Griffith. “We’re giving them very similar plans, but adjusting based on what facilities they have access to or what their resources are.”
Obviously, individual training varies from team training, but that is an adjustment they’ve all had to make in these times of social distancing. Griffith said she and other coaches in similar circumstances are trying to be creative. The coaching staff is in regular contact with the players as a team—weekly Zoom calls—and individually.
To keep their minds basketball sharp, they’ve watched WNBA and NBA action and then collectively broken down the play. Griffith said it was a good time for them to learn about the game. Studying film continues to be the substitute for in person learning.
“We’ve kept our main framework of what is important and how we continue to progress physically, mentally and as a program,” said Griffith. “The players’ leadership and resilience have really shown during these times.”