Maryland forward Ivan Bender suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee during Friday’s win over Maryland-Baltimore County and will miss the remainder of the season, the team announced Sunday.
The loss of Bender is the latest blow for a frontcourt that has thinned considerably over the past week. On Thursday, Maryland announced that sophomore forward Justin Jackson would miss the rest of the season with a torn labrum in his right shoulder, and the 6-foot-9, 230-pound Bender was expected to play a pivotal role at the power forward position in the wake of Jackson’s absence.
“I thought he was really playing well,” Maryland Coach Mark Turgeon said after the forward was injured on Friday night. Bender will have surgery this week.
Bender, who has started seven games this season and is averaging 3.4 points and 2.9 rebounds per game, was injured during an offensive possession midway through the second half against UMBC. He hobbled off the court on his left leg, which had already suffered two torn anterior cruciate ligament injuries during his junior league career in Europe before joining Maryland in 2015. An MRI on Saturday confirmed that this injury is to his right knee and is the latest setback to what has already been a college career marred by injury. Bender dealt with a wrist injury and a lingering leg injury as a sophomore last year.
Bender was also playing in a variety of roles with the ongoing health issues to the frontcourt over the past month, which aside from Jackson has included freshman Bruno Fernando and senior Michal Cekovsky each missing time with ankle injuries. Bender had played 26 percent of Maryland’s minutes at power forward over the past five games and 14 percent of the minutes at center, according to analytics site kenpom.com.
With his top two power forwards now on the shelf, Turgeon on Friday night hinted that all options are on the table in terms of his rotation. Against UMBC, he experimented with small and big lineups. He started small forward Jared Nickens at the four-spot — it was Nickens’ first start since last season’s opener against American — and he tried redshirt junior guard Dion Wiley at the position as well. Turgeon doesn’t often play his two centers, Fernando and Cekovsky, together, but he mentioned that as another option moving forward. Turgeon hasn’t used graduate transfer Sean Obi much over the past month — Obi didn’t play Friday night against UMBC — and redshirt freshman Joshua Tomaic logged just one minute. It remains to be seen if the roles of those players will expand.
“There’s going to be certain guys that play 37, 38 minutes every night. That’s just the way it’s going to be,” Turgeon said. “We have enough players. We have enough.”
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