These days, Patrick Ewing finds himself repeating the same things whenever he sees head athletic trainer Michael Leonard. As Leonard’s training room becomes crowded with more and more players, the Georgetown coach pops in with a simple reminder.
“‘That’s why you get the big bucks,’” Ewing said, recalling the interaction. “Get them back healthy.”
For Georgetown (15-10, 5-7 Big East), getting back a full roster doesn’t appear to be happening any time soon — especially not before Wednesday’s game against Providence at Capital One Arena. With injuries to Mac McClung, Omer Yurtseven and others, the Hoyas had only six players play meaningful minutes in Saturday’s upset over No. 21 Butler. A seventh player, walk-on George Muresan, played three minutes.
Because of the circumstances, Terell Allen, Jagan Mosley and Jahvon Blair played all 40 minutes. Over the past four contests, the trio is averaging at least 38 minutes per game. Among those, Blair has played every single minute in that span.
That leaves the Hoyas with the challenge of not only focusing on their injured players’ rehabs, but also taking steps to prevent players from tiring out due to a bigger workload. In college basketball, there is more time off between games than the NBA, but that alone isn’t enough to keep players fresh.
Georgetown is adapting to the process.
“Ice baths and sleep,” Mosley said when asked about his recovery methods. “And eating right.”
Ewing said to accommodate, he has also tweaked his schedule. Film sessions are longer than they used to be, taking additional time to keep players off their feet and go over details. There’s also the issue of having enough bodies to practice, which has left Georgetown resorting to bringing back recent graduates like Trey Mourning and Kaleb Johnson to help field a scrimmage team.
Other D.C.-area teams have had similar types of injury misfortune. The Washington Redskins were left signing cornerbacks off the street late last year when their unit had been depleted by injury. The Washington Wizards started this season with a lengthy list of players in suits on the bench. Even the Washington Nationals, before they won the World Series, dealt with significant injuries to Anthony Rendon and Trea Turner early on.
But Ewing said he hasn’t experienced a situation like this before. Sure, there were times when as a player that the team he was on would be missing their best player — often him — and those squads found ways to win regardless. But he couldn’t recall another time having a rotation so thin that three players had to play all 40 minutes.
“When you’re in it, you can’t think about it,” Ewing said. “I don’t want (the players) to start thinking about it. All they should be thinking about is the next practice, the next game, staying focused, staying locked in.”
That sort of mindset has served the Hoyas, who’ve won three of their last four, well. Georgetown’s recent success has them now eighth in the Big East, and even on the bubble of some NCAA Tournament projections.
As for the workload, Mosley said he prefers playing all 40 minutes. No player, he said, wants to come out, adding later that playing every minute allows one to play through mistakes. Before, a timely turnover could result in a trip to the bench. Now, Georgetown hardly has that luxury.
“When you go out there, you’re just playing through the flow of the game,” Allen said. “You don’t really think about being tired. You just think about winning the game.”
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