Memphis guard depth just took a hit.
Antonio Barton will be out 4-6 weeks with a hairline fracture in his right foot, the fifth metatarsal, to be exact, though it won’t require surgery. This is according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal.
X-rays and an MRI revealed soft tissue damage to the foot. The injury and diagnosis means there’s a chance Barton could return for the postseason, instead of being out for the seas as originally feared.
Barton, who is averaging 6.2 points and 1.2 rebounds this season for the 20-3 Tigers’, injured the foot in the teams 89-76 victory on the road at Southern Miss on Saturday. A good win if the Tigers want to secure the top seed in the Conference USA tournament next month. Though it seems unlikely any other team is perched to beat them.
It’s also not an injury that coach Josh Pastner is spending a ton of time grieving about. As evidence in from C-A Memphis beat writer Jason Smith.
“Antonio’s helped us win a lot of games, but the other guys are just going to have to step up,” Pastner said.
Let’s get this straight: Memphis doesn’t need Barton to win the conference. I know, that’s from the “no, duh” department. After a somewhat rough patch in the non-conference season, the Tigers have shown they are clearly the class of C-USA. It’s not even close.
However, losing Barton does mean one thing: Memphis does lose a consistent contributor off the bench. Barton has the ability to breakout — he scored 16 points against Tulsa on Feb. 2 — and they will search for a new sixth man in terms of minutes off the bench. Barton 18.7 minutes this season.
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Expected to be one of the favorites in the Mountain West this season, Boise State’s perimeter ranks have shrunk by one player due to injury. Thursday it was reported by the Idaho Statesman that freshman guard Malek Harwell will redshirt after suffering a torn ACL in practice. Along with fellow freshman Paris Austin, Harwell is expected to be a key part of the Broncos’ future beyond the upcoming season.
Now, instead of competing with an experienced backcourt that includes four redshirt seniors, Harwell will work to get his knee back to full strength for the 2016-17 season.
Among the guards who will play significant minutes this season are Anthony Drmic, who took a medical redshirt last season, Montigo Alford, Mikey Thompson and grad transfer Lonnie Jackson (Boston College). Chandler Hutchison, who started in Boise State’s final 18 games of the 2014-15 season as a freshman, will also compete for playing time.
Illinois will be shorthanded in its front court for the time being, as during the team’s media day Thursday head coach John Groce announced that sophomore forward Leron Black is out due to injury.
Black will undergo surgery Friday to repair a meniscus tear in his knee, and he’s expected to miss anywhere from four to six weeks. A return after four weeks would have Black back on the court just before the Fighting Illini open their season November 13 against North Florida. Any longer and the Memphis native would wind up missing some game action.
Black averaged 5.0 points and 4.3 rebounds in just under 15 minutes of action per game as a freshman. He’s one of the players expected to contribute in the front court for the Fighting Illini, who lost their best interior defender and second-leading rebounder in Nnanna Egwu at the end of last season (guard Rayvonte Rice, who led the team in rebounding, is also gone).
In addition to Black and junior Maverick Morgan, Illinois adds redshirt freshman Michael Finke and grad student Mike Thorne Jr. (via Charlotte) to their front court rotation.