Coach Tony Bennett said on his weekly radio show Monday night that an MRI exam revealed Atkins has suffered a stress reaction to his injured right shin, and his availability for Saturday’s game against Florida State is now in doubt.
“We’ll kind of take it a week at a time and shut him down and just see where we’re at,” Bennett said. “It’s unfortunate, but we have to try to get him to where he can play. His game is about activity, his game is blocking shots and movement, and when he’s limited to really one good leg, it’s not enough. We’re going to do everything we can to get him right.”
Atkins, a former All-Met from Landon, had emerged as a vital interior presence for the Cavaliers, who lead the ACC in scoring defense this season. But his effectiveness has been muted while battling shin splints recently.
Through the first 12 games of the season, Atkins was averaging 8.8 points and 5.2 rebounds. The past four contests, though, his numbers have fallen to 1.5 points and 1.5 rebounds.
During Saturday’s loss at Clemson, Atkins did not play the final eight minutes because Bennett did not feel he could contribute in such a limited capacity. It was no coincidence that Tigers forwards Milton Jennings and Devin Booker dominated Virginia inside with Atkins sidelined.
If Atkins can’t play against the Seminoles, the Cavaliers would likely lean on freshmen Evan Nolte and Mike Tobey more than ever. Bennett also mentioned the possibility of using shooting guard Joe Harris at power forward on the radio.