|ESPN.com: Dick Vitale||[Print without images]|
Oh baby, I am so excited about the upcoming college hoop season. We are a little more than a month away from tipping it off, and already there have been a number of teams impacted by injuries. It is tough enough when players go down at the start of the season, but losing guys before the campaign even opens up ... wow.
Think about what happened this week at Missouri. The Tigers have a lot of depth, but Frank Haith's squad suffered a major blow when 6-8 starter Laurence Bowers suffered a season-ending torn ACL. A solid defender, Bowers averaged almost 12 ppg. and six rpg. last season, starting 27 games. His absence will affect team chemistry as much as anything.
Michigan State lost an experienced leader when Delvin Roe had to end his collegiate career due to degenerative knee problems. He helped Tom Izzo's team make a pair of Final Fours. The Spartans will miss him on the boards. That is a loss for sure.
USC had high expectations for guard Jio Fontan. Unfortunately, he suffered a major knee injury during a summer trip to Brazil and his absence will leave a major void for the Trojans. The six-foot guard averaged over 10 ppg. last season and was a leader in the backcourt. It is a major loss for coach Kevin O'Neill.
The Tar Heels are certainly loaded, but their depth took a hit in July when 6-4 guard Leslie McDonald was lost for the season with a torn ACL. He was an outstanding shooting threat from long distance and his absence will be felt. I'm sure Hall of Famer Roy Williams wishes he had McDonald in his lineup.
Loyola-Marymount's Drew Viney, who averaged over 17 ppg., underwent foot surgery and will miss at least a month of the regular season. The 6-8 senior forward will be missed against UCLA, and perhaps Florida State.
Santa Clara forward Marc Trasolini will miss the upcoming season with a torn left anterior cruciate ligament suffered on a summer trip to his hometown of Vancouver. He averaged 12.8 ppg. and 6.1 rpg. last season.
My friends, injuries are part of the game. It is just a shame to see so many guys go down before the campaign gets underway. It puts a damper on things, though this should be a super, exciting season ahead.