Unfortunately, torn ACLs have become commonplace in sports.
Any time a player lands the wrong way and goes down holding their knee, screaming out in pain, the first thought is that he or she may have very well tore his anterior cruciate ligament.
Just like torn UCLs and Tommy John surgery have become common in baseball, torn ACLs have become common and to a point, inevitable in basketball.
As common as the injury may be, it has claimed some of college basketball’s biggest stars this season.
Maurice Watson of Creighton, Edmond Sumner of Xavier, John Egbunu of Florida…the list goes on and on.
For all we know, those aforementioned players may never return to their previous forms. Sumner’s injury may have sapped him of his explosiveness that enabled him to get into the paint so easily. Egbunu’s injury may have taken away his sky-high jumping ability that has helped him become Florida’s leading rebounder and in the case of Watson, his injury may scare away NBA scouts as he prepares to enter the NBA draft.
Torn ACLs have the ability to not only change the trajectory of someone’s career, but end it as well. A prime example of this is Ray Smith of Arizona.
The former five-star recruit was planning to make a return from a second ACL tear this season, but disaster struck in the opening days of practice. Smith went down with a non-contact injury in practice and had to be helped off the court by his teammates. He would eventually be diagnosed with a torn ACL, the third such injury of his career.
His basketball days are officially over.
It is easy to sit back and feel bad for any player who tears his or her ACL, but when one starts to look at it from a team perspective, the anguish only continues.
Before tearing his ACL against Xavier, Mo Watson was the driving force behind Creighton’s rise to national prominence this season.
Sure, current Chicago Bulls forward Doug McDermott had put the program on the map, but this team was something different. Led by Watson, the Creighton basketball program found itself at new heights with a legitimate chance to make a deep NCAA Tournament run.
Watson was not only Creighton’s best player, but also the team’s point guard and leader. He facilitated the offense on the court and made sure things ran smoothly off it.
When Watson went down, many people focused on how Creighton was going to replace Watson the player. What they didn’t focus on was how it was going to replace Watson the leader.
In the team’s first two games without Watson, Creighton gave up 102 points to Marquette on the road and lost to an inferior Georgetown team by 20 points, also on the road.
For a team that had only lost one game with Watson running the show, the Jays have lost four games since he went down and have struggled to a 4-4 record without him.
The same goes for Xavier, a team that has lost three games in a row, all of them by double digits, without Sumner on the floor and are 3-3 without him in the lineup.
Every year torn ACLs are essentially expected around the sport, but this season is different.
This season, the injury has hit so many star players and changed the seasons of so many teams that every time news of a torn ACL breaks it is hard not to stop and think: when is this going to stop?
Unfortunately, it probably never will.
Tyler Calvaruso is a journalism major from Howell, N.J. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @tyler_calvaruso.