How Austin Freeman's Diabetes Affects The Georgetown Hoyas

John DeMarzoContributor IMarch 4, 2010

ANAHEIM, CA - DECEMBER 12: Austin Freeman #15 of the Georgetown Hoyas celebrates during the game with the Washington Huskies in the John Wooden Classic on December 12, 2009 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. Georgetown won 74-66. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/ Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Junior guard Austin Freeman, the Georgetown Hoyas' leading scorer, did not start the Hoyas' home loss to Notre Dame this past Saturday, and managed only five points in 23 minutes. While seated on the bench, he had a towel draped over his headthe classic sign of a player suffering from a virusand he displayed no energy on the court. It was painfully obvious to the CBS audience that Freeman was sick, but he still played 23 minutes against the Fighting Irish, scoring only five points on 2-of-5 shooting.

The official word coming out of the Georgetown camp was that Freeman was suffering from a stomach virus, and it appeared to be a plausible explanation when Freeman missed the Hoyas' loss at West Virginia on Monday night. It later came out that Freeman was hospitalized back at Georgetown, and that a few other members of the team were also sick. On a side note, junior guard Chris Wright was suffering from a cold when Georgetown fell at Rutgers on Valentine's Day, and appeared to be laboring during the game.

This morning, it came out that Freeman has developed diabetes.

How will it affect Freeman?

Well, diabetics are unable to convert blood sugar to energy, because either the body can't use the insulin it produces, or the pancreas fails to produce insulin. Freeman will require daily insulin injections, or the delivery of insulin through an insulin pump. 

Stephen Clement, head of the Diabetes Center at Georgetown University hospital, said that Freeman is doing fine, as his sugars are controlled, and that it may be a month to determine which type of diabetes he has. The more common case of diabetes is Type 2 diabetes, which affects 90-95 percent of the diabetic population, and occurs when the body can't properly use the insulin it produces. The more rare Type 1 diabetes, which affects the remaining 5-10 percent of the diabetic population, occurs when the pancreas quits producing insulin.

How will it affect the Hoyas going forward?

Head coach John Thompson III has said that he is unsure of Freeman's return date, and his status for the regular season finale against Cincinnati is questionable, as is his status for the Big East Tournament, which starts next Tuesday at Madison Square Garden. 

Should Freeman be unavailable to play or at considerably less than full strength, it would be a major blow to the woefully thin Hoyas.

Georgetown has four starters averaging 33 minutes a game or more, led by Wright's 35 per game. Freeman and sophomore center Greg Monroe play 34 minutes per game, while sophomore guard Jason Clark averages 33 minutes per game. The players on the Hoyas' bench that see more than 12 minutes a game are freshman guard Hollis Thompson (20 minutes per game) and freshman forward Jerrelle Benimon (12 minutes per game). 

If Freeman is unable to play, or unable to play for extended periods of time, Thompson will likely be replacing him in the starting lineup. Thompson averages four points per game, which is a major drop-off from Freeman's 17 per game. Freeman is shooting a whopping 54.2 percent from the field this season, and 47.3 percent on three-pointers. Freeman has gone for 20 points nine times or more this year, highlighted by his 33-point effort against Connecticut, where Georgetown erased a 19-point, first-half deficit to win, 72-69. 

Most teams would be hard-pressed to replace what Freeman brings to the table, and for a team like the Hoyas, that is lacking depth, it will be extremely difficult to succeed in the post-season without a productive Freeman.