116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
To some, it might sound dreary, even miserable. To others, it's just what has to be done.
It's how the teams in the NCAA men's basketball tournament are living in Indianapolis. If you call that living.
Iowa, which opens NCAA play Saturday against Grand Canyon, has been in Indy since last Wednesday when it arrived for the Big Ten tournament. Its real lockdown started Sunday.
'We got out of our quarantine Monday afternoon,' Iowa guard Connor McCaffery said Wednesday. 'We went into it Sunday night. That was the stay in your room, you can't leave your floor. The only thing you could go out of your room for was like to get ice or something if you needed it if you were sore. But other than that you were completely in your room, and that was our quarantine period.'
Things opened up after everyone associated with the team took two COVID-19 tests on different calendar days to be OK to then proceed together with practices, meetings and team meals. But it's still mostly isolation. Unlike normal road trips, the players have their own rooms and the players spend most of their days in them, alone.
'You can go down to the meal room for breakfast, you get tested every day, and then you have practice that you walk to,' McCaffery said.
'You can't go outside. You can't go on leisurely walks on a nice day, there's nothing like that. You can't even just walk around the hotel, you get escorted everywhere. When we go down on the elevator, there's a guy that knows every time when we have meetings and he walks (with the players) from the elevator to the meeting room. Then when we are done with our meeting he walks from the meeting room back to the elevator.
'It's just kind of been a crazy experience, but it is what it is. I think it's just something that they needed to put in place to make sure this is all able to work.'
The teams practice at the Indiana Convention Center, connected to their five downtown hotels by a skywalk.
'It's been different, but it's kind of been much similar to what we've been doing all year,' said Iowa All-America center Luka Garza. 'We haven't been leaving the house anyway to do anything beside go to the gym. There's obviously more freedom when you're not here in the bubble, but it's very similar in terms of daily testing and not being able to go outside, go to restaurants. I think these are things we've been avoiding all year to make sure that we stay safe and aren't exposed or anything like that.
'I think we've gotten used to this lifestyle at this point, and we're all here for a reason.'
Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said 'It's pretty much business as usual except that we're not leaving the facility.
'It's not really all that much different. … I would like for the players to have the opportunity to go outside, get some fresh air, walk around the block, walk downtown. That would be nice.
'There's just a little more down time right now, which they probably don't care for, but I think we all recognize we handle our business this way.'
Connor McCaffery said his sleep schedule is messed up because he's spending so much time on his bed in the room.
'The biggest thing I've been thinking about,' he said, 'is a lot of teams talked about the Lakers during the NBA bubble and they just said they were the best team to embrace that whole experience and they were able to come out of it with a championship.
'They didn't think about any of the things going wrong, they just completely embraced it and they had fun with it, and they were the ones that stayed in it the longest and were able to come out of there with the championship, so I think that's something we could try to replicate.
'It's definitely been interesting, to say the least. I've never experienced anything like it. I just think it's something we're going to have to deal with it since we're planning on being here for a while.'
Grand Canyon guard Jovon Blacksher Jr., added this Wednesday afternoon: 'It's just been lonely.'
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