Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Chris Evans and Evan Kelley Likely Done for the Season

Other than the two miraculous, wildly improbable comebacks, the Sacred Heart basketball season couldn’t have started off any worse. Really, had Yale or Stony Brook made another play or two down the stretch of their respective games, the Pioneers could find themselves winless through six games. That’s right, 0-6, as in their worst start since the 2002-03 season, when they finished their fourth year as a Division I program with a robust 8-21 record. Oh how I don’t miss those days...

But they’re not and at two wins and four losses, SHU shouldn’t be in full blown panic mode yet. Of course, if the health of the team continues to deteriorate, then all bets are off. We are beginning to inch closer to that realm.

For starters, junior guard Evan Kelley will not return this season. Kelley, who spent the majority of the preseason rehabbing his dislocated kneecap, had a major setback in practice after the Stony Brook game two weeks ago. Because of the setback, Kelley will most likely undergo surgery before Christmas to repair the knee. The surgery would, of course, sideline Kelley for the remainder of the season.

"No. I would say 99% no," said assistant coach Anthony Latina when asked if Kelley could return this season. "Playing him again puts (Kelley) at greater risk to tearing an ACL on top of his dislocated kneecap."

Chris Evans, arguably the team's second or third best player behind Gibson, also is highly unlikely to return to the team this season. Evans underwent meniscus surgery in the offseason, yet the knee hasn't responded well when subjected to practice on back-to-back days. Evans has recently begun practicing, but it may simply be too late to get the team leader back into the lineup come January.

"He's trying to get back," said Latina. "But the problem with Chris (Evans), by the time he's really healthy and in shape, we're going to be two to three weeks into the (NEC season). And then, do you bring a guy back for 12 games? It's a tough call."

The silver lining in all this is the Pioneers will get to redshirt both players and gain an extra year of eligibility on the duo. Of course, they were supposed to add value and depth to a roster ready to win now, especially with Shane Gibson and Justin Swidowski as seniors.

But the team, Latina says must move forward. "It's very tough, but (the team) is staying focused, they're trying to work and we can't worry about the guys that aren't playing. We have to make sure the guys that are playing are improving and that we're improving as a team."

Shane Gibson injured his ankle in the Lehigh game, but should be ready to play tonight in the Pioneers' second home game versus Holy Cross. Gibson is at little risk to worsen the injury, therefore it's more of a question of how effective he'll be moving forward. Steve Glowiak, on the other hand, is questionable for the Holy Cross game with an ankle sprain.

Add it all up, and you have a backcourt that's been decimated by injuries in the early going. It's not the start this Pioneer fan envisioned, but they must move forward with the current roster. Whether that gets them into the upper echelon of the NEC, is completely unknown at the moment.

Ryan Peters covers Sacred Heart men's basketball for Pioneer Pride and Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @pioneer_pride

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