Published: Tuesday, December 29, 2020
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas will be without an assistant coach for its SEC opener on Wednesday.
Clay Moser, head coach Eric Musselman’s final on-court hire to his initial coaching staff, will not travel with the team to Auburn, Musselman told reporters Tuesday. It will be the third consecutive game Moser has missed due to covid-19 protocols.
Musselman added that director of basketball operations Anthony Ruta, who was not present for the Abilene Christian game on Dec. 22, will return to the bench and step into Moser’s role.
“He did not have (covid-19), but he’s back with us,” Musselman said. “He’ll go on the road. Michael Musselman will move into Ruta’s spot, so to speak. Everybody’s doing something different. Our itinerary, different people are doing that.
“We have a plane seating chart, which I’ve never done before. We have a bus seating chart that I’ve never done before. We have a seating chart for how we’ll sit at a team meal. All stuff that will be new to us starting today when we finish practice.”
Musselman, who did not coach against Abilene Christian, was cleared to travel to Auburn around 8:20 p.m. on Monday.
“I’m happy to be back and rejoining the team,” he said. “The last several days sucked. I hated being away from the team. … I’m really, really happy. Got a new breath of fresh air.”
While away from the team, Musselman said he worked out in his garage 3-4 times per day and “did covid tests that I was not asked to do.”
“I feel good. I’m still one of the few in our group that hasn’t had it,” he added. “I do think that wearing a mask, it has certainly helped me, for sure, because obviously if somebody deems you to be contact-traced and you’re pulled out, there’s a good chance … it’s happened to me twice now — close contact.
“And I haven’t gotten it, knock on wood. It doesn’t mean it can’t happen today, tomorrow, the next day, next month. But I certainly feel like the stuff that we’ve tried to do here has certainly helped me from a personal standpoint in not getting covid.”
Arkansas-Auburn is scheduled to tip off at 6 p.m., and the game will air on ESPN2. The Tigers enter conference play 6-2 overall and have won five consecutive games.