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Team Colorado forced to bow out of 2020 The Basketball Tournament

Logistics of re-formatted tourney too difficult for former CU Buffs

Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer
Team Colorado coach Nate Tomlinson talks to players during basketball practice at the CU Events Center in Boulder on July 22, 2019.

The lucrative and enticing $2 million jackpot still will be up for grabs this summer in The Basketball Tournament. Team Colorado, however, has been forced to bow out of the annual summer hoops competition.

Last week, USA Today reported a series of strict quarantine and testing measures that will be in place for the 2020 The Basketball Tournament, which will be re-formatted from a 64-team, multi-site tournament to a single-site endeavor featuring just 24 teams.

Josh Repine, a former Buffs player who serves as Team Colorado’s general manager, said the logistics, combined with the quarantine measures that will make this year’s competition a much larger time commitment on the part of the players, made it impossible for the former Buffs to make a run for the money this year.

“What they want to do is like a four or five day quarantine before you go there, and if we were going to play we were playing to win, so we’d be there 10 to 12 days,” Repine said. “That turns it into maybe three weeks, and that was too much for all of us logistically. The logistics just became too difficult for us.”

In normal years, the time commitment for The Basketball Tournament is, in its entirety, less than two weeks, with games spread over several weekends. While organizers of The Basketball Tournament have not yet announced which venue will host its 2020 competition, or how its selection committee will settle on the 24-team field, the ESPN-backed tournament is expected to feature rigid procedures to quell the possible spread of the coronavirus COVID-19.

According to the USA Today report, one of those measures will be frequent testing during the tournament, with each and every team separated from one another except during the games. If any one player on any team tests positive for COVID-19, the entire team will be disqualified for the remainder of the tournament.

Repine noted that as a donor-based organization, the risk-reward of possibly having any player from Team Colorado test positive and ruin the investment for the entire team also was part of the equation in not fielding a squad this summer.

“If we flew out there and one of our guys tested positive, we’d be disqualified,” Repine said. “That’s difficult for us because we’re donor-based.”

Team Colorado has participated in The Basketball Tournament ever summer since 2015, including a memorable run to the title game in 2016. The former Buffs raced to a big lead in that title game before watching the winner-take-all $2 million payoff slip away down the stretch.

Given Team Colorado was not yet fully pledged to the 2020 TBT, the roster had not yet been set. But former CU player and current director of player development Nate Tomlinson was back on board for his second season as Team Colorado’s head coach, and recent Buffs players like 2018 second team All-Pac-12 performer George King had expressed interest in competing this summer.

“It’s always disappointing,” Repine said. “The guys just love to compete. They love to come back to CU and then go compete at the tournament wherever that is. For them not to compete, that’s the difficult part. They’re always itching to play.

“Hopefully the coronavirus is a one-time issue that we can move forward from. So I don’t think we’ll lose too much traction. The thing about the CU guys is we all have pride to play for CU. Any time they can represent the school, we all want to do that. We’ll have plenty of guys who will want to do that.”