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Richmond player back on court after collapse, heart scare

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Grant Golden had no idea what was happening when he collapsed.

“I just got extremely dizzy and then I ended up blacking out at half court,” the Richmond forward said, recounting a frightening few moments last December during a game against Texas Tech.

Teammate T.J. Cline yelled at him to get up, thinking Golden had slipped on a wet spot. On the bench, trainer Adam Smith remembers joking about Golden’s clumsiness.

“And then when he collapsed on the bench, we obviously knew it was something a little bit more serious,” Smith said.

Golden fell three times and was unconscious for “three to five seconds,” Smith said, before he came to, alert and talking.

Moments earlier, Coach Chris Mooney noticed that the 6-foot-9 freshman appeared “a step slow” on defense. Now there was an emergency, one that evoked memories of Loyola Marymount star Hank Gathers, who collapsed and later died during a nationally televised game March 4, 1990.

“The scariest moment I’ve ever had in coaching, for sure,” Mooney said.

Golden had no history of heart problems. But his heart was beating so fast the training staff couldn’t take his pulse manually. The Spiders’ medical team scrambled to assess what was wrong in the hushed arena. They put him on a stretcher and he was wheeled to an ambulance.

“Probably the scariest situation I’ve dealt with in my professional career so far,” Smith said.

Golden spent two nights in the hospital and was found to have an irregular heartbeat. Less than a week later, he underwent a relatively simple procedure to eliminate the abnormal electrical signal in his heart that caused the problem. He was later cleared to return to basketball.

Among those watching the game on television was Golden’s mother. Ellen DePoy-Golden was home in Winchester, recuperating from surgery.

“When he collapsed, the first thought was that he had slipped and the floor was wet,” DePoy-Golden said in a telephone interview, speaking of the announcers. “Didn’t think too much about it. The camera wasn’t on him, and then they said, ‘Something is wrong with Golden. He went down in front of the bench,’ and my heart just stopped.”

Among those attending to her son was her husband, Craig, who had made the trip to Richmond that morning. He alerted the doctors to his own history with atrial fibrillation. Mooney also had two friends at the game, sitting behind the Spiders’ bench. One is an ER trauma doctor, the other a heart surgeon.

“You don’t want it to happen during a game on national television, but he could have been in his dorm room alone and blacked out,” DePoy-Golden said. “He could have been driving and blacked out, so of all the places for it to happen, he was without a doubt in the best place possible just because of the people that were around.”

Dr. Kenneth Ellenbogen, chairman of the cardiology division at Virginia Commonwealth University, said VCU has cared for numerous athletes with similar issues over the past 30 years.

“Within a couple days after (the procedure), they can return to whatever sport they play,” Ellenbogen said.

Golden waited a few weeks to resume weight training. A week after the Spiders’ season ended, in late February, he was cleared to rejoin the team for workouts.

“That was definitely the hardest part, just mentally accepting that I was OK and everything,” he said.

Mooney acknowledges some trepidation at first. Golden recently was granted a medical redshirt by the NCAA, giving him an extra year of eligibility.

“He’s a tremendous athlete and he’s pushing himself and doing well and feeling confident,” Mooney said. “I know he doesn’t want to be treated (differently). He wants to be coached and normal and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Golden’s mom was certain her son would return to basketball.

“Believe me, Grant’s heart has had every test known to man now,” she said. “It concerned me, but there really was never a thought of telling him, ‘I don’t want you to do this,’ because it’s his dream and he has worked so hard.”

Bubbles brewing with season on horizon

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INDIANAPOLIS — With the coronavirus pandemic already forcing changes for college basketball, a bubble may be brewing in Indianapolis.

Indiana Sports Corp. released a 16-page proposal Friday that calls for turning the city convention center’s exhibition halls and meeting rooms into basketball courts and locker rooms. There would be expansive safety measures and daily COVID-19 testing.

The all-inclusive price starts at $90,000 per team and would cover 20 hotel rooms per traveling party, testing, daily food vouchers ranging from $30-$50 and the cost of game officials. Sports Corp. President Ryan Vaughn said the price depends on what offerings teams or leagues choose.

“The interest has been high,” Vaughn said. “I think as conferences figure out what conference and non-conference schedules are going to look like, we’re we’re a very good option for folks. I would tell you we’ve had conversations with the power six conferences, mid-majors, it’s really kind of all over the Division I spectrum.”

Small wonder: The NCAA this week announced teams could start ramping up workouts Monday, with preseason practices set to begin Oct. 14. Season openers, however, were pushed back to Nov. 25 amid wide-ranging uncertainty about campus safety and team travel in the pandemic.

There is already scrambling going on and some of the marquee early-season tournaments have already been impacted.

The Maui Invitational will be moved from Hawaii to Asheville, North Carolina, with dates still to be determined and organizers clear that everyone involved “will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.” The Batttle 4 Atlantis has been canceled. The Cancun Challenge will be held in Melbourne, Florida, not Mexico.

More changes almost certainly will be coming, including what to do with the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

“I think we’re past the guesswork on whether we play 20 conference games or more than that,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said Friday. “We’re trying to get everybody set like in terms of MTEs (multi-team events), figuring out when to play the ACC-Big Ten challenge.”

Painter, who was part of the NCAA committee that recommended how to start the season, noted part of the uncertainty stems from differing protocols imposed by campus, city and state officials.

In Indianapolis, Vaughn believes the convention center, nearby hotels, restaurants and downtown businesses, many within walking distance of the venue, could safely accommodate up to 24 teams. The 745,000-square foot facility would feature six basketball courts and two competition courts.

Anyone entering the convention center would undergo saliva-based rapid response testing, which would be sent to a third-party lab for results. Others venues could be added, too, potentially with more fans, if the case numbers decline.

If there is a taker, the event also could serve as a dry run for the 2021 Final Four, also slated for Indy.

“It’s not going to hurt,” Vaughn said. “I can tell you all the planning we’re doing right now is the same for a Final Four that’s been scheduled here for any other year. But it would be nice to have this experience under our belt to see if it can be done.”

Maui Invitational moving to North Carolina during pandemic

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ASHEVILLE, N.C. — The Maui Invitational is moving to the mainland during the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the premier preseason tournaments on the college basketball schedule, the Maui Invitational will be played at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.

Dates for the tournament announced Friday have yet to be finalized. The NCAA announced Wednesday that the college basketball season will begin Nov. 25.

This year’s Maui Invitational field includes Alabama, Davidson, Indiana, North Carolina, Providence, Stanford, Texas and UNLV.

All teams, staff, officials, and personnel will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.

Burton eligible at Texas Tech after 2 seasons at Wichita State

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LUBBOCK, Texas — Junior guard Jamarius Burton has been granted a waiver from the NCAA that makes him eligible to play this season for Texas Tech after starting 52 games the past two seasons for Wichita State.

Texas Tech coach Chris Beard announced the waiver Thursday, which came five months after Burton signed with the Big 12 team.

Burton has two seasons of eligibility remaining, as well as a redshirt season he could utilize. He averaged 10.3 points and 3.4 assists per game as a sophomore at Wichita State, where he played 67 games overall.

Burton is from Charlotte. He helped lead Independence High School to a 31-1 record and the North Carolina Class 4A state championship as a senior there.

NCAA season set to open day before Thanksgiving

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The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball season will begin on Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving.

The Division I Council voted Wednesday to push the start date back from the originally scheduled Nov. 10 as one of several precautions against the spread of coronavirus.

The later start date coincides with the decision most schools made to send students home from Thanksgiving until January out of concern about a potential late-fall and early-winter flareup of COVID-19. Closed campuses could serve as a quasi bubble for players and provide a window for non-conference games.

The maximum number of regular-season games has been reduced from 31 to 27. The minimum number of games for consideration for the NCAA Tournament was cut from 25 to 13.

Teams can start preseason practices Oct. 14 but will be allowed to work out 12 hours per week beginning Monday.

No scrimmages against other teams or exhibitions are allowed.

In other action, the council voted to extend the recruiting dead period for all sports through Dec. 31. In-person recruiting is not allowed during a dead period, though phone calls and other correspondence are allowed.

The men’s and women’s basketball oversight committees had jointly recommended a start date of Nov. 21, which would have allowed for games to be played on the weekend before Thanksgiving. The council opted not to do that to avoid a conflict with regular-season football games.

The council is scheduled to meet again Oct. 13-14 and could delay the start date and change other pieces of the basketball framework if circumstances surrounding the virus warrant.

UConn’s Tyrese Martin granted waiver to play this season

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STORRS, Conn. — UConn swingman Tyrese Martin, who transferred from Rhode Island in April, has been granted a waiver that will allow him to play for the Huskies this season.

The 6-foot-6 junior averaged 12.8 points and 7.1 rebounds and started every game last season for URI, where he was recruited by current UConn coach Dan Hurley.

NCAA rules require undergraduate transfers to sit out a season, but the organization has been more lenient in granting waivers during the pandemic.

Martin, 21, is expected to compete for playing time at UConn on the wing as both a guard and small forward.