Shockers adjust to life inside the NCAA Tournament bubble


Khánh Nguyễn/ The Sunflower

Head Coach Isaac Brown talks to his players at the end of a tight game against USF at Dickies Arena on Mar. 12.

Wichita State arrived in Indianapolis for the NCAA Tournament earlier this week and they were met with the same challenges that they’ve faced all year long. 

Immediately following their arrival, the program took COVID-19 tests daily while also quarantining in their hotel rooms for 18 hours. Thus far, WSU hasn’t faced any setbacks with 14 of the 16 players having tested negative for the virus. 

The Shockers were without junior Trevin Wade and freshman Jaden Seymour due to COVID-19 complications during last week’s American Athletic Conference Tournament. Now, both players have arrived and Head Coach Isaac Brown said that with another negative test result both would be cleared.

“We’ve been negative every day, we haven’t heard anything else,” Brown said. “Every guy is ready to go to practice and we’re waiting on the other two guys Trevin and Jaden. We need to find their results. Hopefully we’ll get those guys back tomorrow but other than that we’ve been good.”

WSU has dealt with testing and quarantine throughout this season. Sophomore guard Tyson Etienne said that this experience has become their new normal.

“For me personally, it’s not too bad.,” Etienne said. “At home I have had to stay away from a lot of things due to the coronavirus. For me, it’s been a lot of studying, watching film and learning different topics that I like to study outside of basketball. I’ve been pretty comfortable now that they’ve lifted our quarantine of having to stay in the room the whole time, it’s freeing mentally but it’s not too bad for me.”

WSU’s quarantine was lifted on Wednesday and they were allowed to travel and practice at Purdue’s Mackey Arena for the first time since arriving on site. 

Redshirt senior Alterique Gilbert, who has never played an NCAA Tournament, said it was a good experience to get out of quarantine yesterday. 

“We were limited, a lot just being in the room, but being here alone was just great for us just getting to this moment with the guys, just seeing a bracket on a building,” Gilbert said. “Then traveling to practice was great. Getting out the room a little bit, so we were really excited for this opportunity. I think a lot of the guys are looking forward to it.”

Junior Dexter Dennis said that because of their experience in dealing with the virus this season, not much has changed heading into this week. 

“It’s kind of normal now,” Dennis said. “We’ve been pretty much doing it this whole year. It’s kind of like rules and protocols you have to follow. So we pretty much knew it once we landed, we went to quarantine for a little bit, test negative a few times and it’s pretty much nothing new. We’ve been pretty much going through it the whole year. It’s just a little bit different, a little bit bigger on the stage because it’s the NCAA tournament.”

Other players in the bubble have complained about some meals thus far on social media, but junior Morris Udeze said that it’s still a special experience to be at the tournament even with these rules that they have to follow.

“I mean it’s nothing really new to us,” Udeze said. “To see people complain about the food and stuff, it’s funny to me, but just the same old quarantine. So we’re kind of used to it already.”