Reggie Johnson: Loss of Injured Center's Rebounding Will Doom Hurricanes

Richard LangfordCorrespondent IMarch 27, 2013

AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 24:  Reggie Johnson #42 of the Miami Hurricanes reacts after loosing the ball in the first half against the Illinois Fighting Illini during the third round of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at The Frank Erwin Center on March 24, 2013 in Austin, Texas.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

University of Miami Hurricanes center Reggie Johnson's role has been shrinking, but his absence is still big enough to doom the 'Canes' title hopes.

Johnson stayed behind in Miami as his teammates traveled to Washington, D.C., for their Thursday matchup against Marquette in the East Regional semifinals. 

The official reason, according to a statement by the university (via the Miami Herald's Michelle Kaufman), is a “lower-extremity injury.”

SportsCenter also passed along the info:

Meanwhile, Kaufman tweeted more on the injury: 

The senior center has been a very productive player for Miami, and in the two seasons leading up to this one he averaged double-digits in scoring and at least 7.2 rebounds per game.

He started off this season strong, but then suffered a broken thumb in December. He has not been the same since. 

At the time of his injury, he was averaging 12.6 points and 10.1 rebounds. He wound up missing eight games and struggled to regain his form upon return. He finished the regular season averaging 6.7 points and seven rebounds, and he has not been improving. 

In fact, he has seen a drastic drop in minutes and production, and in the last 12 games he is playing just 13.3 minutes per game and is averaging 2.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and shooting 28.9 percent from the field. 

However, he has shown some flashes since returning, and in the tourney opener against Pacific, he played 24 minutes and grabbed seven boards. It is the rebounding that the Hurricanes are going to miss—especially on the defensive end in this next game. 

For the season, the Hurricanes are 56th in defensive rebound percentage. Marquette is 26th in the nation in offensive rebound percentage. 

This matchup was going to tight to begin with, and now with coach Jim Larranaga losing the depth and rebounding boost of Johnson, the Hurricanes are going to come up short.