Virginia Tech point guard Erick Green is nursing a strained left Achilles’ tendon that he hurt in practice last Friday and his availability for the Hokies’ season opener against East Tennessee State Saturday is up in the air. The 6-foot-3 Winchester native is the third Virginia Tech men’s basketball player to suffer an injury before the 2011-12 has even begun.
But Green’s injury is nowhere near as serious as the knee injuries suffered by senior forward J.T. Thompson and freshman guard Marquis Rankin, both of which required surgery. In fact, Green sounded hopeful that he won’t miss any action.
“If I do miss a game, it’ll probably be one,” said Green, who was wearing a boot on his left foot Tuesday. “But I don’t plan on missing any games.”
Green said the injury occurred towards the end of Friday’s practice during a non-contact drill when he simply “raised up on my toes and just felt it strain and fell to the ground.” Coach Seth Greenberg said Tuesday he thinks the fact that Green was wearing a new pair of shoes had something to do with the freak injury – although Green scoffed at such a theory, saying “you know how coach is.”
Maybe Greenberg is simply looking for a reason why he can’t seem to shake the injury bug. Last year, the Hokies finished the season with just seven scholarship players because of various ailments. This season, they’ve already lost a key contributor (Thompson) to a season-ending injury and will be without Rankin for at least the first few games.
Greenberg said Rankin, who was the favorite to emerge as Green’s primary backup had he not suffered an injury, is slightly ahead of schedule in his recovery and will likely start “running around” next week after undergoing surgery for a torn meniscus five weeks ago.
That means if Green can’t play Saturday, the point guard duties would fall to sophomore Tyrone Garland, with shooting guard Dorenzo Hudson serving as his backup. Garland is a 6-foot-1 combo guard who is more of a scorer than a facilitator. He averaged 2.7 points per game in limited action a year ago.
Greenberg, though, is “cautiously optimistic” that Green will be able to test his Achilles’ out on Thursday and be ready to play on Saturday. Perhaps more important than Green’s availability this weekend is whether he’ll be healthy in time for a potential matchup with George Mason on Tuesday night, should Virginia Tech beat Monmouth in the first round of the NIT season tip-off Monday.
Green had a breakout 2010-11 campaign, averaging 11.7 points and 2.6 assists to help stabilize the Hokies’ lineup after Hudson went down with a season-ending foot injury nine games into the season.
“We’re sure not gonna risk 20 games for one game,” Greenberg said of Green. “He was playing at such a high level; that’s the big thing. You just hope he doesn’t lose that momentum that he was playing with, because he was playing with great confidence and a great energy and great burst.