One day after it was announced that center Carl Engstrom was lost for the season due to torn ligaments in his left knee, the Alabama Crimson Tide suffered another personnel loss that drops them to eight available scholarship players.
Senior guard Andrew Steele is the most recent player to be lost to injury, as he’ll be out of the lineup for 4-6 weeks after undergoing surgery for a sports hernia. A fifth-year senior, Steele has seen four of his seasons in Tuscaloosa either interrupted or ended due to injury. From an injury standpoint if Steele didn’t have bad luck he’d have none.
After playing 29 games as a freshman, Steele only played in the team’s first six games three years ago because of an ankle injury.
The former star from John Carroll Catholic High School in Birmingham missed the first 13 games of the season two years ago because of a knee injury. At the end of that season, he suffered what appeared to be a career-ending concussion.
But Steele came back at midseason last year and played in 19 of the Tide’s 33 games.
Steele missed Alabama’s last three games before undergoing surgery for the sports hernia, but even with the argument that the Tide are accustomed to not having him in the rotation this hurts.
Steele is averaging 4.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game for Alabama, who visits VCU on Saturday. And given the “havoc” that the Rams look to create with their pressure defense, being limited in terms of bodies is the last thing a team needs.
How will Anthony Grant allocate the 19 minutes per game that Steele played? More minutes for players such as Trevor Lacey, Trevor Releford, Rodney Cooper and Levi Randolph. Of those four only Releford (28 minutes) played fewer than 30 minutes in their 81-76 loss to Dayton, and the reason for that was his being in foul trouble.
Against VCU on Saturday, as well as the remainder of the season, those four will be asked to do even more. Fatigue, both mentally and physically, will be something to keep an eye on as Alabama approaches the start of SEC play.
Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.