Old Dominion assistant coach Bryant Stith did a U-turn before jogging off the court at the Constant Center on his way to watch film before Tuesday’s practice.
“I forgot my mask,” he said.
Stith went back and fetched the white surgical mask that is required wearing for all the Monarchs this week, whenever they’re together in a small space.
It’s a precautionary move to contain the bug that has already sidelined freshman Michael Hueitt Jr. and coach Jeff Jones.
Hueitt came down sick on the trip to Southern Miss and Louisiana Tech, and stayed in his hotel room Saturday during ODU’s win over the Bulldogs.
Jones fell ill after returning to Norfolk. He missed Monday’s practice, and watched Tuesday’s from a court-side table, mask in place over his mouth and nose.
Stith ran practice both days, while assistant John Richardson ran the scout team in preparation for Thursday’s game vs. Texas-San Antonio.
Winners of four straight and five of their last six, the Roadrunners (14-11, 7-5) are one of the most-improved teams in Conference USA. They’ve nearly matched last year’s league win total already, and knocked off Western Kentucky Feb. 3. They also beat UAB and Marshall.
ODU fell to UTSA 73-55 in San Antonio last season, by far its biggest margin of defeat in a league game.
The Monarchs (19-5, 10-2) have won three straight and seven of their last eight, but it’s already been a trying week.
ODU’s charter flight back Saturday night was delayed and the team didn’t arrive in Norfolk until 5 a.m. Sunday.
The Monarchs had Sunday off and went through a light practice Monday. Tuesday was scheduled to be a heavier workday.
Jones made his points from the sidelines or by relaying them through Richardson or Stith.
UTSA is led by freshman guard Jhivvan Jackson, who averages 18.6 points. The Roadrunners play at a fast pace and launch 44 percent of their shots from 3-point range.
“They’re a good team,” Jones said. “When they’re making 3s, they’re that much more dangerous.”
As for Jackson, Jones called him the “Trae Young of Conference USA”, in reference to the high-scoring Oklahoma freshman.
“Jackson isn’t afraid of anything,” Jones said.
Neither are the Monarchs. But when it comes to the flu bug, they’re being cautious.