After whirlwind of a week, Roadrunners are set to play Sunday at Oregon State

Jordan Ivy-Curry. Florida Atlantic beat UTSA 73-64 on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Hard-charging guard Jordan Ivy-Curry is expected to play for the first time this season today at Oregon State. – Photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

What a week it was. The UTSA Roadrunners will arrive on Sunday at Oregon State University as a team that is deeper and more talented, by quite a bit, than it was only a few days ago.

Guards Jordan Ivy-Curry and Juan Reyna have been cleared to play for the first time this season after sitting out the first 10 games under NCAA transfer rules.

After a hectic week when a court case in West Virginia yielded a result that led to the addition of Ivy-Curry and Reyna to the travel squad, coach Steve Henson acknowledged the upgrade on his roster.

UTSA coach Steve Henson. UTSA defeated Incarnate Word (UIW) 90-80 in a non-conference men's basketball game at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Coach Steve Henson on Saturday announced the addition of two players — Jordan Ivy-Curry and Juan Reyna — who will be eligible for the remainder of the season. Both had sat out the first 10 games of the season under transfer rules. – File photo by Joe Alexander

“To add a player (in Ivy-Curry) who was a good player (for us) at the Conference USA level, it’s a big shot in the arm,” the coach said.

Additionally, Adante’ Holiman is expected to return after sitting out the past two games with concussion symptoms.

Naturally, the two players making their season debuts are eager to see what they can do to help the Roadrunners (5-5) win a game against the Beavers (6-3) of the Pac-12 Conference.

“I know our team has been missing, like, a little energy,” Ivy-Curry said Saturday morning in San Antonio. “I feel like, with me and Juan, we’re energy guys … I feel like we can do a great job of bringing more defense to our team and more offense.

“I feel like we’re going to have a great year,” he added. “We want to pick this thing up, and get this thing moving.”

Reyna couldn’t hide his excitement during an interview after practice.

Asked how it felt to be a few hours away from boarding a commercial flight to Oregon, en route to the locale where he will play his first game for the Roadrunners, the San Antonio native and former standout at Antonian College Prep unleashed an ear-to-ear smile.

“It feels great,” Reyna said. “I honestly didn’t think I was going to be able to play this year. It just feels great to have an opportunity to help contribute. You know, to help this team win.”

UTSA released the news on Ivy-Curry and Reyna just after the start of a 9 a.m. practice on the team’s home court.

Afterward, Roadrunners Henson said newcomer Justin Thomas also had an opportunity to start playing in games, as well, and he declined.

Thomas, one of the most talented players on the squad, instead will sit out the remainder of the season. He will have two years of eligibility remaining, starting in 2024-25.

Ivy-Curry and Reyna are eligible for the rest of this season and for all of ’24-25, the coach added.

How did this all happen? Weren’t Ivy-Curry and Reyna expected to sit out the year? They were. So, what give? Here’s a brief explainer:

Out of the blue

From a federal courthouse in West Virginia, the news came rumbling out of the hills. Or, as Henson said, “out of the blue.”

Basketball coaches around NCAA Division I could hear the sound, metaphorically speaking, because it stood to make so much of a difference in the quality of their teams.

For Henson, he had more on the line than most.

The eighth-year coach of the Roadrunners had three talented players sitting out as multiple-time transfers who might be able to start suiting up in games depending on the outcome of the proceedings in an antitrust lawsuit.

Initially, on Wednesday, the news was good for Henson. Lawyers for the plaintiffs representing a coalition of seven states argued, essentially, that the transfer rule represented a restraint of trade. The judge agreed, and so he issued a temporary restraining order.

What did it mean? It meant that Henson and others in his profession might be able to start to playing players who otherwise might never have seen the floor this season.

The Roadrunners suddenly started to feel optimistic, like they might be able to start playing games with Ivy-Curry, Thomas and Reyna, all of them considered as two-time transfers.

But as so often happens in court proceedings, more drama and uncertainty ensued. The judge said previously ineligible players could only participate in games over a 14-day period.

Then came Thursday and more concerning news.

Word out of the NCAA was that players who played in games during the TRO might face consequences. News flashed that if the court reversed itself, then those players could be finished for the season after playing in only a few games.

By Friday, the cloudy skies cleared, so to speak. Representatives of the seven states filing the lawsuit huddled with officials from the NCAA.

Even though UTSA had nothing to do with the case, the Roadrunners benefited immensely from the meeting of the minds, which yielded an agreement.

The two sides would request from the judge an injunction that would allow athletes affected by the transfer rule to play in games through the end of the season without concern that they might be ruled ineligible.

The request for an injunction from both sides of the lawsuit apparently is expected to be granted by the court.

It’s a sweeping change that will affect dozens of players nationally.

“All these multi-year transfers (around the nation) are eligible,” Henson said. “You know, this thing changed three times during the week. And a couple of our kids, their decisions went back and forth.”

Henson recalled a moment in time on Wednesday when the team was in Little Rock, and he and his staff tried to figure out how to defend the Little Rock Trojans.

“They had a two-time transfer,” Henson said. “We thought he was going to play. Our guys (Ivy-Curry, Thomas and Reyna) weren’t on the trip with us. We literally joked about getting them a flight and getting them there by that night.”

Guard Juan Reyna works in a defensive drill during a Saturday morning practice at the UTSA Convocation Center. The San Antonio native and former standout player for Coach Rudy Bernal at Antonian College Prep has been cleared to play for the rest of the season.

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