Jared Butler and still-undefeated No. 2 Baylor are ready to get back to playing games after a three-week break because of Covid-19 issues in the program.
The Bears (17-0, 9-0 Big 12) are set to resume their season Tuesday night at home against Iowa State. It will be their first game since Feb. 2 and the first of three games in five days.
“Seeing everybody else play, I kind of feel like I’ve been missing out,” Butler said Monday (Tuesday in Manila) during a Zoom call from the campus in Waco, Texas. “What do you call it when your parents punish you and you can’t go outside and play with your friends? That’s what it’s been feeling like.”
Baylor has had six games postponed since an 83-69 win at No. 14 Texas, when the Bears matched the best start in school history. They were also 17-0 in 2011-12.
Neither the Big 12 or the school have provided specific details about the postponements, other than to say they were in accordance with the league’s interruption guidelines for men’s basketball. That indicates that the Bears didn’t have the required six scholarship players for games, either because of multiple positive tests or contact tracing.
“It was hard, emotionally, because basketball is a big part of our lives, and you expect to play all through February,” Butler said. “You sat there going to school and feeling like a regular student for a little bit. But I also enjoyed it, and realized that there’s a lot more games to play and we’re going to need this energy. And it was kind of a blessing because we get to rest up and rejuvenate.”
Coach Scott Drew said the Bears had their first regular practice in three weeks on Sunday.
Butler said the Bears were a “little rusty” during a 5-on-5 portion, but he didn’t feel they had lost much of their step.