Morsell enters Health and Safety Protocols, Smart says team is fully vaccinated

Marquette+mens+basketball+huddles+prior+to+its+67-66+win+over+then-No.+10+Illinois+Nov.+15.+

Photo by Isabel Bonebrake

Marquette men’s basketball huddles prior to its 67-66 win over then-No. 10 Illinois Nov. 15.

Prior to its BIG EAST home opener against UConn Tuesday night at Fiserv Forum, Marquette men’s basketball announced on Twitter that graduate student guard Darryl Morsell entered Health and Safety Protocols.

After the game, head coach Shaka Smart said the team found out Monday that Morsell would be missing the game. Morsell entered Tuesday’s game as the second leading scorer on the team averaging 13.8 points per game.

“Darryl is feeling pretty well,” Smart said. “I talked to him before the game and I think the biggest thing is he’s just disappointed he couldn’t be here.”

Smart said he experienced the same feeling as Morsell last season when he had COVID-19 during the season with Texas.

“Watching your team play on TV is an excruciating feeling as a coach. I can’t even imagine as a player,” Smart said. “As a player, I would probably say it’s hard because you actually want to be in the game like helping your team.”

Smart said that each member of the team is vaccinated.

“A lot of our guys have gotten the booster. We have a few guys that are not eligible yet in terms of six months removed from vaccination,” Smart said. “But our guys have done a good job being about as safe as we can be,  but unfortunately these cases are cropping up.”

He also mentioned that the program’s staff is also fully vaccinated.

Marquette University President Michael Lovell announced June 7 that in order to attend in-person classes during the 2021-22 academic school year, students must be fully vaccinated unless granted an exemption.

“Scientific evidence has shown that vaccines are safe and effective at reducing transmission of the virus. A vaccinated student population will allow us to provide you with a richer in-person experience, reduce testing and let you interact more freely across campus,” Lovell said in a Marquette Today release on June 7.

Over the last week, several games across the NBA, NHL and college basketball have been postponed due to a rise in COVID-19 cases.

According to the World Health Organization, cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 are doubling every 1.5 to 3 days with documented spread. And in the US, it’s expected to become the “dominant strain” in the coming weeks, the nation’s top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said to CNN Sunday. 

Dec. 19, the NBA postponed five games due to Health and Safety Protocols.

One day later, the NHL announced that it will begin a league-wide shutdown Dec. 22 amid a rise in positive COVID-19 tests amongst its players. The decision to shut down across the entire league also came in response to 10 of the leagues’ 32 teams having been already paused.

As of Dec. 21, four BIG EAST men’s basketball games — Seton Hall vs St. John’s, DePaul vs Creighton, Georgetown vs Providence and Seton Hall vs DePaul  — have been canceled.

BIG EAST COVID-19 policy states, “that if a conference game cannot be played on its originally scheduled date due to an insufficient number of available players (including as a result of COVID), that team shall be deemed to have forfeited with a loss assigned to that team. A win will be assigned to its opponent. The win and loss will be applied to the league standings.”

Smart said while it is ultimately a personal choice, along with the team’s doctor and athletic trainer he is trying to guide and educate his team through these chaotic times.

“Unfortunately, right now we have people that are vaccinated who are testing positive so the next few weeks are going to be very chaotic in sports and in the world. And I think it’s really important for all of us to have a level of perspective about what’s most important.” 

“And then when we get the opportunity to practice basketball and get better at the things we need to do on the court to compete to be a team we want to be, it’s a get to opportunity, it’s not something you have to do. It’s something you’re fortunate to do.”

The Golden Eagles (8-5, 0-2 BIG EAST) now embark on an eight-day holiday break before heading to Queens, New York to face the St. John’s Red Storm next Wednesday.

This article was written by John Leuzzi. He can be reached at john.leuzzi@marquette.edu or on Twitter @JohnLeuzziMU.