Injuries plague Pirates early in season
Only three weeks into the season, the men’s basketball team has already dealt with numerous injuries to their starting lineup. Despite this, the team has managed a 5-1 record.
It started in the preseason with sophomore Aaron Cosby spraining his PCL, followed by sophomore Brandon Mobley hyperextending his knee against Washington and junior Patrik Auda suffering the most serious injury with a broken bone in his foot. While Cosby and Mobley have returned to the court, Auda will miss the rest of the season and be medically redshirted.
“That’s just part of the game,” graduate Kyle Smyth said. “Everybody is ready to step up and obviously with Patty being out and Brandon being banged up a little, it’s difficult.”
One of the biggest challenges facing the team has been the lack of practice time to adjust to the injuries. Mobley got injured minutes into the team’s first game at the Mohegan Sun and Auda got injured the day before Thanksgiving, creating a bit of chaos.
“We took Thanksgiving off and practiced Friday,” Willard said after the win over Saint Peter’s on Sunday. “So (Saturday’s) practice was sort of a dummy session because of time. They had one practice together, and we didn’t know if Brandon (Mobley) would be back.”
Mobley’s return Sunday was also a bit of a surprise with him returning eight days after injuring his knee. Willard originally said Mobley would “be out awhile,” but Auda getting injured changed things.
“When it first happened initially I thought it was going to be a couple of weeks,” Mobley said. “When Patrik (Auda) went down it was tough. I had to tell myself to start seeing the doctor two times a day.”
What made the Mobley and Auda injuries more difficult to deal with is that they play the same position and split playing time averaging 25 and 22 minutes respectively, in the two games they played together.
With Auda out, Mobley knew he had to come back.
“It’s for my team, it’s a sacrifice I have to make for my team,” Mobley said about returning so quick. “I wasn’t going to sacrifice myself if I knew I wasn’t 80 percent I wasn’t going to come back to jeopardize and get hurt further, but it’s just what I have to do for my team.”
The lineup is still a work in progress though, trying to find the right rotations with a limited lineup. Willard had started to figure out what was working, but for the third time he had to readjust.
“We are going to have to figure out the backup four, obviously,” Willard said. “We will try to play big, eventually. The good thing is we will have a lot of time between Christmas break and we’ll practice. We’ll work on certain lineups.”
Until then the Pirates have four games until the end of the semester break, starting with LSU on Thursday.
“It’s difficult but we have a lot of talented players who can play multiple positions and have to step up,” junior Fuquan Edwin said.
Stephen Valenti can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.