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The Injured Player Effect

It’s always cringe-worthy to see a player go down with an injury. If it’s the most talented guy on the team, from a selfish perspective, it is even more devastating because fans, teammates and coaches alike know the general success of the team is bound to drop tremendously.

Georgetown experienced this feeling halfway through their second-to-last regular season game when star senior guard Chris Wright went down with a broken left hand. The Hoyas started off Big East play in an uninspiring fashion, but fought back with an eight-game win streak to earn a top 10 spot in the national rankings.

Wright’s injury, however, forces a reevaluation of their potential for success, especially because the Big East postseason started yesterday and the NCAA tournament is fast approaching. With Georgetown’s inconsistencies, all hands on deck are needed. So far, without Wright, the Hoyas lost their remaining three regular season games, fellow senior guard Austin Freeman’s production slipped, and complementary players Jason Clark and big man Julian Vaughn scored a collective five baskets.

Duke experienced similar feelings Dec. 4, 2010 when their highly-touted freshman starting guard Kyrie Irving went down with a toe injury in a game against Butler. Even though Irving is still a projected high draft pick, Duke managed to stay afloat for awhile before losing two of their last three games to Virginia Tech and crosstown rival UNC.

Irving may get a chance to play in the tournament, which will give Duke a boost, but they still had to fight through the majority of the season without him.

“When a great player gets injured and can’t play, it changes everything,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said at the time of Irving’s injury.

And the difficult thing for coaches like Krzyzewski and Georgetown’s John Thompson III is there is nothing they can do but hope they have a good enough bench to pick up where the injured player left off. For Duke, that seemed to have been the case throughout the season; for Georgetown, not so much at least thus far.

Read my piece in the March 9 issue of the Washington Post Express on p. 16 asking the big question: Will Georgetown be able to get out of his losing slump as they did during a similar run back in January?

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