Injuries Having the Biggest Impact on the 2013-14 College Basketball Season
Bumps and bruises are a part of any sport, no matter the level or style of play. College basketball is no different, with the long grind of a season leading to numerous players having to miss pieces of or entire games due to various types of injury.
But not all injuries are created equal, nor is the impact each has on the hurt player and his team. While most ailments are minor and result in minimal time away from the game, others can last much longer and have long-term ramifications.
As Division I teams move toward the home stretch of the regular season, we look at the injuries that have had the biggest impact on the 2013-2014 campaign.
Julian Boyd, F, LIU Brooklyn
When it happened: Dec. 26
How it's impacted his team: Knee issues have plagued Julian Boyd's entire college career, and the most recent injury put an early end to his run with Long Island.
The sixth-year senior, who had already earned a medical redshirt, was trying to come back from knee surgery when he re-tore the ACL in his right knee during a non-contract drill just after Christmas. He initially tore that ligament in December 2012 and had a setback in his recovery last July, keeping him out of the first half of this season.
Boyd was MVP of the Northeast Conference tournament in 2012, leading the Blackbirds into the NCAA tournament. LIU Brooklyn made it back to the dance last season without him, but this year it is 7-16 overall and, at 2-8, sits ninth in the 10-team NEC.
Seth Hinrichs, G, Lafayette
When it happened: Mid-December
How it's impacted his team: Seth Hinrichs was expected to be the central focus of Lafayette's offense this season, and his experience and talent were a big reason the Leopards were picked to finish second in the Patriot Conference.
But when the 6'7" junior guard injured his knee in December, his team went into a free fall. Hinrichs suffered a partial tear of his MCL, and Lafayette went 0-10 with him out of action. He returned to the court in a Jan. 27 loss to Colgate, but the Leopards have won two of three since then.
Hinrichs averaged 20.4 points per game during the first nine games this season, and in his last two contests, he's averaged 19.5 points and 9.5 rebounds. But it might be too little, too late, though, as Lafayette is last in the Patriot with a 2-10 mark.
DaJuan Coleman, F, Syracuse
Injury: Lower leg
When it happened: Early January
How it's impacted his team: Very little has gone wrong this season for Syracuse, but a midseason loss might end up hurting the Orange down the stretch.
DaJuan Coleman, Syracuse's most impactful big man at 6'9" and 280 pounds, suffered a leg injury a month ago that eventually required surgery, ending his season. He was only averaging 4.3 points and 4.2 rebounds in 13 minutes per game for the Orange, but the sophomore was expected to get more involved as the season went along.
Without Coleman, who also missed time last season due to injury, Syracuse only has 6'9" junior Rakeem Christmas serving as its inside size.
Kenyatta Smith, C, Harvard
When it happened: Jan. 26
How it's impacted his team: Kenyatta Smith was a big part of Harvard's run to the NCAA tournament last season, and his 10 points and seven rebounds were integral in the Crimson's second-round upset of New Mexico.
But the 6'8" junior managed just two minutes of action this season, missing Harvard's first 17 games with a foot injury and then breaking that foot on Jan. 26 against Dartmouth in his brief return to the court. And though Harvard has done well without him this year—it's 18-4 overall and tied with Yale for the Ivy League lead at 5-1—his absence makes it much less likely the team will be able to run through its league and make another NCAA run.
Mitch McGary, F, Michigan
Injury: Lower back
When it happened: Late December
How it's impacted his team: Mitch McGary's play last year during Michigan's trek to the championship game transformed him into a national figure, an almost out-of-nowhere star who became a preseason All-American heading into this season.
But back issues began to pop up during the offseason and trailed into preseason workouts, though McGary was able to return to action in the Wolverines' third game of 2013-14. He played in eight contests, but didn't look sharp, and ultimately he was shut down in late December in order to undergo back surgery.
Amazingly, though, Michigan has fared better without McGary in the lineup than when he played. The Wolverines are 11-2 since he stopped playing, compared to 6-4 before the shutdown occurred. Still, the loss of the 6'10" sophmore's inside presence could be an Achilles heel for Michigan come tournament time.
DaVonte Lacy, G, Washington State
Injuries: Appendix, ribs
When they happened: Late December, Jan. 5
How it's impacted his team: DaVonte Lacy is far and away Washington State's best player, a talented 6'4" junior guard who's averaging 18.5 points per game and shooting 41.7 percent from three-point range.
But when Lacy missed time during the middle of this season—first sitting out two games following an emergency appendectomy, then another six contests with a rib injury after returning for just 11 minutes of action—the Cougars went from just an OK team to a really bad one. A perfect example: On Jan. 2, WSU managed just 25 points in a loss at Arizona.
Lacy returned to the court for the Feb. 1 rivalry game against Washington, helping the Cougars to a 72-67 victory. He's averaged 28 points in two games since then (both losses), and though WSU is 2-9 in the Pac-12, his presence could make them a tough out in the conference tourney next month.
Brandon Ashley, F, Arizona
When it happened: Feb. 1
How it's impacted his team: With Brandon Ashley out of the lineup, Arizona's already small rotation has gotten even more limited. The Wildcats were only playing seven guys on a regular basis before Ashley, the team's second-leading scorer at the time with 11.5 points per game, came down wrong on his right foot early in the loss at California.
The broken foot has sidelined the 6'8" sophomore for the remainder of the season, with KOLD-TV in Tucson reporting Monday that Ashley was set to have surgery on Tuesday.
Arizona suffered its only loss in the game Ashley went down, but it has won both games since, though not necessarily convincingly. Ashley was one of the team's better shooters, at 52.2 percent, not to mention a great defender and all-around inside presence. Without him, untested players are having to get more minutes, and the chance of a long NCAA tournament run took a severe hit.
Spencer Dinwiddie, G, Colorado
When it happened: Jan. 12
How it's impacted his team: Colorado was 14-2 and looking like a serious Pac-12 contender when Spencer Dinwiddie, the team's leading scorer (14.7 points per game) and assist man (3.8), crumpled to the floor and clutched his left knee in a Jan. 12 game at Washington.
The explosive 6'6" junior guard suffered a torn ACL and is done for the year, and the Buffaloes struggled mightily in the games immediately after Dinwiddie's injury. Colorado dropped four of five, falling out of the top half of the conference standings and putting its NCAA hopes in peril before getting settled into its new lineup and approach.
Colorado has looked much better the past three games, all home wins, including a 26-point drubbing of Washington on Sunday. But with five of seven on the road (as well as a home game against Arizona) left in the regular season, the Buffaloes will be facing an uphill battle without Dinwiddie.
Keith Appling, G; Branden Dawson, G; Adreian Payne, F, Michigan State
Injuries: Wrist (Appling), hand (Dawson), foot (Payne)
When they happened: Early February (Appling), Jan. 23 (Dawson), early January (Payne)
How it's impacted their team: One injury just isn't enough for Michigan State, which has been without at least one of its starters since early January. The result has been some odd lineups and uneven play, with the Spartans losing three of five.
First it was forward Adreian Payne, whose nagging foot strain caused him to sit out from Jan. 11 until Feb. 6, a span of seven games. Before he could come back, junior guard Branden Dawson broke his right hand after reportedly slamming it down in anger during a film session, and he's expected to be out until late in the regular season.
Payne returned on Feb. 6 and scored 12 points off the bench in a win over Penn State, but the comeback was tarnished by the loss of senior guard Keith Appling. Appling had been dealing with a nagging wrist injury that just became too much to handle in games, and there's no timetable on how long he'll be out of action.
Despite all of these injuries, Michigan State is tied for the Big Ten lead (with Michigan) at 9-2 and has already reached 20 wins. Imagine what this team is going to look like when—or if—it becomes completely healthy.