TAMPA - — The University of Tampa men's basketball team opened the 2021 season Wednesday with a 79-75 win at St. Leo. The coronavirus pandemic pushed the regulars season back three months, and it shortened the schedule to an eight-game, conference-only slate. Despite all the changes, the Spartans are just happy to be playing.
"It doesn’t matter who we play, when play. As long as we play," said freshman guard Max Jones. "As soon as they told us we could play, I was like 'Oh yeah. We gotta get it done."
Head coach Richard Schmidt said there hasn't been any problem keeping his team motivated during uncertain times.
"We got a pretty nice group of kids," Schmidt said before Friday's practice. "We got a lot of new guys, but we have some veterans that help us along in those areas. I’m glad that we’re at least giving them an opportunity to have some kind of competition."
Jones had a game-high 23 points in the season opener. The Clearwater High School grad says his teammates are his brothers, and they want to stay on the court together as long as they can.
"We just keep working. We work every day," Jones said. "The journey was great. We got through it. We’re playing now. We’re gonna be great."
The Spartans were scheduled to open their home schedule tomorrow night against Barry University, but coronavirus issues at Barry forced that game to be canceled. UT will host St. Leo instead. Tipoff is scheduled for 4 P.M.