Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?
Kansas State basketball coach Bruce Weber, at age 63, has learned — as has anyone else involved with the college game — that in the world of COVID-19, tried and true is out the window.
More than once during his half-hour virtual media conference, Weber brought up the need to be creative, whether in recruiting, scheduling, conducting practices or even looking out for his players' mental health.
"It has been very chaotic, to say the least," he said.
With official practices scheduled to open next Wednesday, the Wildcats have held some workouts and opened their gym up for the players. All the while worrying about how to keep them safe on a college campus, which has proven to be a breeding ground for the virus.
"When we let them go home for four days right before school started, I was afraid that if we didn't let them go, they might not get to go at Christmas," Weber said. "So many decisions, and everything you do is difficult because it can affect so many things.
"You let them go home and somebody comes back with it, it may put your team out of commission. Football, it's one thing to lose guys (because) they have 130 bodies, (but) with us if you get one or two down, between (quarantine and) contact tracing, you're probably down."
At one point, the Wildcats thought they had their 2020-21 schedule complete, but Weber guessed that it now will be a week or so before the Big 12 puts out its slate, and it could be even longer for nonconference games to be finalized.
K-State was scheduled to play in the Cayman Island Classic in late November. That tournament, which already had been moved from the Caymans to Florida, was canceled because the NCAA moved the start of the season back to the end of that month.
"The scheduling has been really difficult these last two weeks," Weber said. "There's so many unknown questions for everybody.
"Games were canceled, MTEs were canceled, the testing for every league is a little different. So we may be able to announce some things in the next few days, but it also may change, and I can see that happening."
Compounding the challenge for K-State is the fact that the Wildcats have eight new players on their roster, including five freshmen. And freshman guard Luke Kasubke is sidelined for at least a couple of months after undergoing foot surgery.
Weber credited his veteran players for their willingness to lead the way.
"(Under) extenuating circumstances, our young guys are going to have to step up, and they're going to have to be major factors," he said. "We're all pleased as a staff with our older guys. Mike (McGuirl, senior guard) came back in early May, DaJuan (Gordon, sophomore guard) and him, and they just said, 'We've got to come back, coach.'
"They couldn't get in our facility, but they worked out on playgrounds and anywhere they could. Both of those guys have done a great job with their bodies, and I think they're more confident."
One silver lining with the young group is that coaches have been able to be more hands-on because they have not been on the road recruiting. As for recruiting, that has looked different, as well.
"You're learning as you go, you're trying to be creating (and) thinking outside the box," Weber said. "We did a lot of Zooms early.
"We put together some nice Zoom presentations, but then every month they said we couldn't go out, we had to think of something else. So we've got to put together a little thing where we have a home visit Zoom and then a campus tour where you're going around campus, so you try to be creative with that, and then a basketball video."
For the players, even team-building activities such as bowling and paintball have been put on hold. And the COVID-19 cloud is ever present.
"It's really hard to be a student on a campus right now," Weber said. "I feel bad for them.
"A quote we've used is 'The best ability you can have during COVID, is availability.' "