Siena Men’s Basketball: Saints without Brookins

The Siena men’s basketball team suffered a severe blow on Wednesday when sophomore starting point gu

The Siena men’s basketball team suffered a severe blow on Wednesday when sophomore starting point guard Rakeem Brookins was lost for the season with a back injury.

Brookins has missed the preseason after hurting his back during practice a few weeks ago. He got a second opinion, and was diagnosed with a bulging disk at L3-L4 and a herniated disk at L4-L5 by orth­opedic surgeons at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania this week, at which point the decision was made to take a medical redshirt for the 2011-12 season.

He’ll stay home in Philadelphia for the fall semester, and plans to return to class in January.

By then, he may know if the injury requires surgery. For now, he’s scheduled for medication and treatment for six weeks.

“I feel bad for him,” Siena head coach Mitch Buonaguro said. “Rock is a warrior. I thought he made the next step. He worked hard this summer. I hope, just for his career, he’s OK and comes back next year 100 percent.”

“It’s a little bit of a shocker,” senior shooting guard Kyle Downey said. “It stinks, for him and for us. I talked to him last night, and just hope for the best for him. I hope it doesn’t turn into a career-lingering kind of problem, because I’ve had those kind of injuries, and they’re not good.”

The Saints open at home next Wednesday against Navy, and the starting lineup is expected to be Downey, OD Anosike, Owen Wignot, Brandon Walters and freshman Evan Hymes, who inherited the starter role at the point.

Brookins started 25 of 28 games last season, averaging nine points and 4.3 assists per game.

He was hurt while driving to the basket against a player trying to draw a charge, and Brookins fell awkwardly.

“It wasn’t a big thing, he walked it off and kept playing that day,” Downey said. “Then the next morning, I guess it was pretty sore. He actually came back to practice two days later, then tweaked it again, and that was it.”

Brookins was expected to be one of the better point guards in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

Not only does his injury put the ball in the hands of a freshman, but Hymes, 5-foot-8 and 147 pounds, will be backed up by another freshman, 6-2, 181-pound Davonte Beard.

The experienced Downey could be another option, but Buonaguro doesn’t want to compromise what he expects will be a productive scoring year for Downey.

“It doesn’t change much,” Buon­aguro said. “Luckily, we recruited two kids late, Evan Hymes and Davonte Beard, who are going to take up that role. I don’t want to put Kyle Downey there, because it takes away from his scoring.

“It’ll be like last year. We’re going to play freshmen there, and it’s going to take some time to acclim­ate to the position. Evan is a point guard, and Davonte is more of a combo guard. The adjustment will be a little more difficult for Davonte.”

“I’m actually pretty excited,” said Hymes, a native of Durham, N.C., who played at Kestrel Heights Charter. “I can’t wait for the season to start. I’m looking forward to going out there to lead the team and see what we can do. I’ve been giving my teammates some balls, looking for Kyle Downey out on the wing, Owen, OD in the paint. Coach wants me to push the ball every time.”

“He was having a hard time running the point in pickup this summer, but right now, everything’s flowing pretty well with him,” Downey said. “I think Rock’s a little more of a scoring point guard than Evan is. Evan’s very good at getting into the lane and finding people. It’s kind of the same theory, just different people.”

To compound the injury sit­uation, another projected starter, sophomore Trenity Burdine, still has his injured foot in a boot and is not expected to be ready for the season opener.

“He has to get an appointment set up to get an update on his foot,” Buonaguro said. “Hopefully, he’ll get good news and we can get him out of the boot and do some therapy and get him ready. He’s out at least another week, maybe more.”

“We can’t complain about what we don’t have,” Downey said. “We just have to play the hand that’s dealt to us. We’re doing that right now, and we’re going to do it to the best of our abilities.”

Categories: College Sports

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