Chasing History: Covering the Zags in the NCAA tournament bubble

Zags Chasing History
Copyright 4 News Now

Just like everything in this pandemic world, covering the NCAA tournament will look a little bit different this year. One thing is constant: 4 News Now sports director Keith Osso from our sister station KXLY in Spokane will be there, covering Gonzaga basketball for KAPP-KVEW as the Zags try to win their first NCAA tournament title.

Osso has covered the NCAA tournament every year since 2003. Some of the rituals of the tournament become old hat, like open practices and fan stories. COVID-19 has upended so many of those traditions this year. For example, teams don’t start the tournament spread all over the country. Instead, every team will play in the state of Indiana, from the opening tip until the nets are cut down on April 5th.

RELATED: Gonzaga receives number one overall seed in NCAA tournament, will play Saturday

Access to the games will be limited as well. The NCAA announced earlier this month that fans can fill the venues up to 25% capacity. Media access is limited, too, but Osso will be allowed in the games to be your eyes and ears if you’re stuck watching at home. Players and staff have to go thorough testing throughout the tournament and observe social distancing guidelines. Meals will be held either in the hotel rooms or in meal rooms with assigned seating.

Players and staff can have up to six family members attend the game, but they can’t interact with their loved one face-to-face for the entire tournament.

Players and staff will also have to wear tracking devices that will make it easier to do contact tracing and quarantine if someone has tested positive. We saw a similar system in play during the Pac-12 tournament earlier this month.

RELATED: EWU gets 14 seed, will play Kansas in first round of NCAA tournament

What does that mean for Osso? It means getting creative. He’ll fly to Indianapolis later this week and stay as long as the Zags are playing. He’ll be looking for stories on tournament protocol, fans, the different environment and everything else that comes with having a major basketball tournament during a pandemic. He’ll be covering the games and gathering pre-game and post-game interviews. He’ll be telling those stories of this historic team, historic program and historic year. He’ll be there, just as he has for the last 18 tournaments, to bring the excitement of Gonzaga’s tournament run to you. If and when the Zags make history and win that NCAA tournament title, he’ll be there to share it with all of us back home watching KAPP-KVEW Local News.