Before Arinze Onuaku's MRI results were announced yesterday, Onuaku's mother made a bold proclamation to the New York Times' Pete Thamel: "He's fine. He will be back for the NCAA Tournament."
Doctors and team trainers wanted to wait for the big fella's MRI results before they went around making any such claims, which is why it took until yesterday afternoon to release those results. But guess what: Arinze's mother was right. He'll be just fine.
This is, of course, a major break (not literally, har!) for Syracuse's tournament hopes. With Onuaku in the lineup, the Cuse can go big with just about anyone in the country; the combination of Onuaku and Kris Joseph has given Syracuse an interior advantage, especially on the offensive boards, all season long. Without Onuaku in the lineup, Syracuse would be forced to play much smaller, moving Big East player of the year Wes Johnson to the four and sacrificing either interior rebounding or Johnson's deadly outside shot, depending on where Johnson played.
The loss might also have affected Syracuse's seeding. Between the team's disappointing Big East tournament loss to Georgetown yesterday and the injury, it's conceivable Syracuse might have suffered a drop to the No. 2 seed line when the brackets are announced tomorrow. Not anymore: Syracuse should be a sure-thing No. 1 seed. And with Onuaku back at practice on Monday, Jim Boeheim and company can go back to feeling good about this postseason.