Four days after its final home game was canceled because of COVID-19 concerns within the program, the Gophers women's basketball team returned to practice Wednesday afternoon.
The team will practice again Thursday, then travel to Illinois for Friday's regular-season finale.
The plan is for the team to compete in next week's Big Ten Conference tournament in Indianapolis, where the team will most likely begin play Wednesday.
"It's been challenging, there is no question," Gophers coach Lindsay Whalen said after the workout ended. "Our team has been dealt a really tough go with different COVID positives throughout the year. To get to the last week, and have another one, it's been difficult."
It began last Thursday when a non-player associated with the program tested positive for the virus, a member of the so-called Tier 1 group that gets consistent testing. That group includes, for example, players, coaches, managers, trainers and strength and conditioning coaches. On Friday, one student-athlete tested positive.
That forced a Saturday announcement that Sunday's home finale vs. Michigan would be canceled.
But after proper isolation was initiated, and after a string of team-wide negative tests, the team was cleared to resume working on Wednesday.
"Our medical team said we were able to proceed," Whalen said. "So now we will continue, if possible, to proceed through the end of the season."
This isn't the first time the team suspended activities because of the virus. Multiple positive tests forced a shutdown for the better part of three weeks in November; the combination of injury and illness limited Whalen to seven available players for the Dec. 2 season opener against Eastern Illinois. The Gophers dressed eight players against Drake four days later.
After a 1-6 start to Big Ten play, the Gophers have gone 6-4 in their past 10 games, including a 73-63 victory over Nebraska at Williams Arena on Feb. 24.
The cancellation of Sunday's game with Michigan was the second game that fell victim to the virus; the Gophers' first game with Michigan, scheduled for Feb. 4, was canceled because of virus-related issues within the Wolverines' program.