COVID costs UB coach, Griffs games

Buffalo men’s basketball coach Jim Whitesell did not make the trip for today’s game at Miami University (5:30 p.m., ESPN3, 1520 AM) and also will miss games Saturday at Syracuse and next Tuesday at St. Bonaventure because of exposure to COVID-19.

Whitesell, 60, released a statement on Monday explaining the circumstances surrounding his absence:

“On Friday morning an individual that I have had close contact with, not associated with our men’s basketball program or the UB campus community, received a confirmed positive PCR result for COVID-19,” he said.

“In following the protocols set forth by the Erie County Department of Health, I will be self-quarantining for 14 days. I have tested negative this past week and throughout our testing process since the summer.”

Assistant coach Angres Thorpe will assume head coaching duties on the road for the next three games. He coached from the sideline during Thursday’s win against Division II Mercyhurst while Whitesell distanced himself from the team, shouting instructions from the fourth row of seats behind the bench.

“We have been very fortunate all of our players, myself, and assistant coaches have continuously tested negative since October when we began our multiple testing that is required. I am incredibly thankful for the ability to test and UB’s commitment to our student-athletes during this time. Our medical staff has worked very diligently to keep everyone safe.”

“While I am very disappointed not being able to be with our players, I know they are in good care. Our assistant coaching staff is fantastic, and I am confident they will have this team well prepared.

“I will continue to communicate with our student-athletes and staff virtually and I can’t wait until I can get back on the court with my team.”

The Bulls (2-2) lost their MAC opener on the road against preseason favorite Bowling Green last week. Starting big men Brock Bertram and Josh Mballa have been deactivated with foot injuries and it is uncertain when they will return.

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Canisius men’s and women’s basketball teams won’t play scheduled series against Siena this coming weekend.

The men’s games were postponed on Sunday in a joint statement citing “the best interest of student-athlete health and well-being.” Siena’s Tier I personnel was scheduled to be released from quarantine Monday night following a pair of lengthy pauses related to positive COVID test results.

Canisius split its season-opening series with Marist over the weekend. Malek Green, a 6-foot-6 transfer from Morehead State, had 18 points and seven rebounds to lead the Griffs in Friday night’s 81-72 win at the Koessler Athletic Center. Green added 11 points and 13 rebounds in Saturday’s 56-52 loss to the Red Foxes, while Griffs guard Majesty Brandon scored 21.

Positive test results within the Siena women’s team led to Monday’s postponement of two games at Canisius. Anndea Zeigler (O’Hara) averaged 14 points for Canisius in two losses at Marist to open MAAC play. Freshman guard Dani Haskell (Franklinville) scored 19 on Sunday.

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