With basketball season quickly approaching, I began to wonder if this was going to be the year that GU would avoid the big preseason injury that seems to occur on an annual basis. After news broke that Rob Sacre would miss 6-8 weeks with a foot fracture, I was not surprised or upset, but instead immediately began thinking about who would replace him in the rotation. While this injury is obviously not good news, there are two factors that keep me optimistic; the timing of the injury, and the opportunity that this presents other players.
Timing of the injury: While no one ever wants to see a player get injured, this is nowhere near the worst time of season to lose a player. Rob will likely miss 6-8 weeks, so if we look at the worst possible scenario, he will be back at the beginning of December. This means that he will likely be able available to play December 6 against Indiana. The only significant games that Sacre will be missing are the three games that will be played at the Old Spice Classic. Rob will be able to get back in the rotation by the Battle in Seattle on December 20th, and should be fully ready to go by WCC play. This is not similar to the Heytvelt situation last year, as he was never fully healthy, and therefore could never become a regular in the rotation.
Opportunity: The player that will benefit from this injury the most is Ira Brown. With Sacre out, Ira will be the primary "big" off the bench. I know that many people will question if Ira can play in the post since he is only 6'4. I could not be more confident in the fact that Ira can hold his own against nearly every post player in the country. Ira has the strength that he can move any 6'10 PF off of the block, and the athleticism that he can rebound when he is in with the bigs. Any height that Ira might give up to his opponent, he can surely make up for with his strength and athleticism.
When I look at the top opponents we play this season, the only team with a big man that I don't think Ira can matchup with is UConn. Jeff Adrien reminds me of a bigger version of Ira, which means that Ira's strength wont be as effective against Adrien.
Michigan St.- As I mentioned in my breakdown of Michigan St., I think Ira is a great matchup for Raymar Morgan, as he can use his strength to make Morgan uncomfortable near the basket.
Arizona- Has no real post presence besides Jordan Hill. Josh will certainly matchup with Hill, which means that Ira will likely guard a less talented PF.
Memphis- Neither Dozier or Taggart is a true banger, and neither has anywher near the strength to deal with Ira in the post.
Tennessee- The Vols have no reliance on a true post presence, as Coach Pearl loves to use the quick and athletic bigs. This is another game where Ira's athleticism could see him play a huge role.
The other player who will have a great opportunity because of the injury is Will Foster. At 7'4, Will is a matchup nightmare for any team and player across the country. Many fans have longed to see Will given an opportunity on a regular basis. If Will can dominate on the defensive end, which he is fully capable of, and be assertive on the offensive end, then he will see consistent minutes while Sacre is out. I don't think this injury will have any impact on the redshirt status of Andy Poling. Since Rob will be available for the majority of the season, it does not make sense to have Andy burn his redshirt status, as he needs a year to put on strength.