Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Justin Swidowski Doubtful to Play This Week for Sacred Heart

Sacred Heart was without the services of senior Justin Swidowski for their long Pennsylvania road trip last week, and it appears he’ll be out for at least a little longer. According to SHU assistant coach Anthony Latina, Swidowski is unlikely to suit up for their two home games this week against Bryant and Monmouth.

“He's doubtful for Thursday and this weekend," said Latina on Tuesday morning.

Swidowski dislocated his right shoulder in practice approximately a week ago. The MRI came up negative, yet the Pioneers are exercising extreme caution before declaring Swidowski fit to play. 

The latest injury adds to the unfortunate rash of shoulder problems encountered by Swidowski in his collegiate career. The 6’9” power forward had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder this offseason. He barely made it back in time to begin the season and has seen a significant drop in his production as a result. Despite the bouts of inconsistency though, Latina felt Swidowski was beginning to find his rhythm on the court.

“It's disappointing, because [Swidowski] was really starting to turn the corner and play well,” said Latina. "He's a kid in this league that can really score, inside and out."

In addition, Chris Evans will redshirt this season, thanks to a nagging knee injury that hasn’t improved since he underwent meniscus surgery last offseason. Evans had been sporadically practicing in an attempt to return this season, but his long shot comeback attempt appears to be over.

Evans, along with redshirt guard Evan Kelley who had knee surgery in December, will have two years of eligibility left beginning next season. The injuries, although untimely, give Sacred Heart an impressive foursome of junior guards next season in Evans, Kelley, Steve Glowiak, and point guard Phil Gaetano.

Without the versatile Swidowski in the lineup, the Pioneers will rely on senior Nick Greenbacker, and newcomers De’Aires Tate, Mostafa Abdel-Latif, and Tevin Falzon in the frontcourt. Femi Akinpetide, who wasn’t with the team for the past seven games because of personal reasons, is back on campus and will be in uniform Thursday night. It’s unknown whether he’ll receive any playing time, however, after a long layoff.

One player who is expected to see a significant amount of playing time this coming week is Tate. The 6’6” freshman had 24 points, nine rebounds, four steals, and two blocks in his last two games combined. Tate's play has possibly elevated him as the first big man off the bench.

“De'Aires' play is very encouraging," said Latina. "We always knew he was extremely athletic and he could make plays that other guys in the league can't make. It was just a matter of being completely comfortable out there with what we're doing. Once he gets comfortable, and he's trending that way, he has a chance to be very good ... because of his length and athleticism.”

Thanks to the numerous injuries this roster has suffered, Sacred Heart will need players like Tate and Falzon to step up if they want to legitimately compete for a NEC title. Sacred Heart's showdown with the first place Bryant Bulldogs on Thursday will immediately test the Pioneer's depth. It remains to be seen how they'll respond.

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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