Monday, November 28, 2011

Hoops Housekeeping: Tim Abromaitis, Trevor Mbakwe with serious knee injuries

Tim Abromaitis has never had knee problems.

Every athlete goes through the typical aches and pains that come with being a college basketball player -- banged knees, twisted ankles, sore backs -- but Abro had never missed time because of knee problems. Which is why, when his right knee gave out has he came to a jump-stop in a 2-on-2 drill in practice on Friday morning, the severity of his injury was shocking. No one saw this coming. And now, one of the best kids is all of college basketball may finish his collegiate career on the bench in street clothes.

"Going on the court [at practice], it felt like one of those first four games where it's just waiting to get back out there," Abromaitis told the South Bend Tribune. "I kind of had to remind myself that it's done for the season.

"I'll eventually come to grips with it, I guess. I don't know if there's any technique to getting used to it."

The injury is a crushing blow for the Irish. Already in a rebuilding year, Notre Dame will now be forced to face the rigors of the Big East schedule without their leading scorer and best player. Abro's minutes will likely end up going to freshman Pat Connaughton, another 6'6" shooter that has played well in the first seven games of his career. Scott Martin and Jerian Grant are going to be expected to boost their scoring, while sophomore point guard Eric Atkins will continue his transition to becoming the star for this team.

If there is a silver lining to the suspension that Abro had to deal with earlier in the year, its that Notre Dame has had to play without Abro.

The question now becomes whether or not Abro will apply for a sixth-year of eligibility. This is his fifth-year in college. He redshirted his sophomore season, a decision that was actually the cause of his four-game suspension earlier this year as he played in two exhibitions games. If Abro, who already has two degrees from Notre Dame, does decide to return for a sixth-season -- which isn't a guarantee at this point -- there is no indication of whether or not the NCAA will actually clear him.

Its a shame to see a great kid and a good player have his college career ended this way. Abro deserved better. Life is just unfair sometimes.


Trevor Mbakwe tears his acl: We knew this was bad as soon as it happened.

Mbakwe crumpled awkwardly to the ground during the second half of Minnesota's loss to Dayton in the Old Spice Classic finals. He had to be carried off the court and spent the remainder of the game in tears on the bench with his knee wrapped in ice. He even tweeted from the locker room "Lord please get me through this."

All of a sudden, all the depth that Minnesota had in their front court is gone. Colton Iverson transferred to Colorado State, Mo Walker is still battling a knee injury that ended his freshman season and Ralph Sampson is battling a sprained ankle. That leaves redshirt freshman Elliott Eliason up front. I would say that Minnesota will be forced to play at a faster pace now, but they are without a point guard this season thanks to a number of transfers.

One year ago this week, Minnesota was in the top ten after a dominating performance at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Tournament. My, how things have changed.

"My family and I would like to thank everyone for their support," said Mbakwe in a statement.

"Trevor's done everything we've asked him to do in his time here at the University of Minnesota. He's been through an awful lot," said Gopher head coach Tubby Smith. "That says a lot about his toughness to be able to recover from the things he has already endured. He had a knee surgery before (at Marquette) and for it to happen a second time, you hurt for him, but you know he's a guy that has the will power and has been through it before and can recover again."

Michael Eric reinjures his knee: Temple fans will be waiting with baited breath over the next week as the status of their team's starting center is reevaluated.

Eric injured his right patella in practice on Friday. Its the same knee in which Eric fractured his patella in February of last season, an injury that caused him to miss the final ten games of the season. Without Eric, the Owls have almost no interior presence. The 6'11" senior had been averaging 10.5 ppg, 11.3 rpg and 2.0 bpg while replacing Lavoy Allen up front.

Erik Murphy tears his meniscus: Florida's starting power forward suffered the injury last Thursday in practice and sat out the Gator's game against Stetson on Friday. Its unclear how much time he is going to miss, although Billy Donovan has speculated that it can be anywhere from a week or two to a couple of months.

Murphy is a major loss for Florida. His ability to shoot the ball from the four spot really spread the floor for the Gators and opened up the paint. It allowed them to use pick-and-pops in the half court and created space for penetration from Florida's talented back court. No Murphy will be a major blow heading into Friday's trip to Syracuse.

Harrison Barnes is fine: We all saw North Carolina's loss to UNLV in Vegas over the weekend, which means we also all saw the nasty fall that Barnes had in the second half. He rolled his ankle in the process and immediately headed for the bench, where he sat with his head down for the next couple of minutes. He left the arena on crutches, but that appears to have been a cautionary move, as he was off of the crutches when the team left the airport the next day.

Stephen Van Treese reinjures his knee; Rakeem Buckles returns to practice: After being healthy for just two weeks, Van Treese was injured in practice over the weekend. The timing was good, at least. Rakeem Buckles has been cleared to return to practice and should be back on the court within a week or two.

Travis Wear cuts foot while snorkeling: Exactly what it says. He needed five stitches.

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