We Could've Been a Contender: College Basketball's Costliest Injuries Team
When Robbie Hummel went down last February, the injury derailed a potential championship season. Purdue was cruising to a No. 1 seed and would have had a legitimate shot to make some serious noise at the Final Four in nearby Indianapolis. Instead, Purdue bowed out in the Sweet 16 to eventual national champion Duke. Then, in a cruel twist of fate, it happened again this past Saturday. Purdue was a consensus top-three team and certain national championship contender. Now, they're once again somewhere a tier or so below the nation's best.
With this in mind, this week's Tuesday Team is a sad trip through memory lane. We'll look at what might have been for certain teams and players.
We've sorted through losses incurred by teams that prevented each team from going as far as it could have in March. Here are 12 players -- with a very special team captain -- whose teams missed them quite a bit, even to the point that a national championship could have been lost with the injury.
Honorary Team Captain
Hank Gathers, Loyola Marymount, 1990 - This is a special entry, because anything relating to what Loyola Marymount lost on the court when Gathers passed away takes a back seat to the fact that a promising young man lost his life. He passed away at 23, suffering from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
If we can remember what he was on the court, though, we can remember one of the positive aspects of Gathers' life.
Put simply: He was a man among boys. Gathers averaged 32.7 points and 13.7 rebounds a game (the numbers were somewhat inflated due to Marymount's insane offensive scheming; the Lions took part in the five highest scoring games in Division I history), leading the nation in both scoring and rebounding.
The Lions went to the Elite Eight after Gathers' passing, on the strength of his friend Bo Kimble's play.
Basketball is much less important than real life, but about a million reasons down the list of why it was a shame he died was not getting to see what his team could have done that March.
All-Injury Impact Team
(listed alphabetically by last name)
Derek Anderson, Kentucky, 1997 - UK concluded the season on the losing end of an epic overtime championship game with Arizona. Anderson, however, was one of the best players in the nation when he fell injured in January. It's likely Kentucky takes the crown if he stays healthy.
Keith Bogans, Kentucky, 2003 - The Wildcats could very well have been on their way to championship No. 8 (or No. 9 if Anderson had stayed healthy?), but their star guard sprained his ankle in the Sweet 16 victory. In the Elite Eight, he was limited to 4-of-11 shooting in just 24 minutes; his quickness completely taken away. And UK was blown out by Dwyane Wade's Marquette squad.
Baron Davis, UCLA, 1998 - The Pac-10 Freshman of the Year tore his ACL in the first round of the Big Dance. The Bruins, who were ranked as high as No. 6 during the season, were blown out by eventual champion Kentucky in the Sweet 16, but you never know ...
Jerome Dyson, UConn, 2009 - Tore up his knee and missed the last six weeks of a Final Four season. A.J. Price filled in more than admirably, but when a Final Four team loses one of its key cogs, it's worth discussing the possibility it could have won two more games and taken the crown.
Alan Henderson, Indiana, 1993 - The Hoosiers were the best team in the nation throughout the regular season, and then Henderson went down with a knee injury. The 6-foot-9 power forward was the team's leading rebounder and averaged 11 points a game. Without him, the top-seeded Hoosiers lost in the Elite Eight to Kansas.
Robbie Hummel, Purdue, 2010 and 2011 - Already covered him.
Kalin Lucas, Michigan State, 2010 - The star point guard tore his Achilles tendon late in the first half of the second round game against Maryland last season. Interesting to note that the Spartans seemed to play better without him in the second half of that game as they mounted a big comeback. Still, not having him in the Final Four against Butler likely cost them a repeat visit to the finale.
Kenyon Martin, Cincinnati, 2000 - The Bearcats were cruising to a top overall seed in the NCAA tournament and would have been overwhelming favorites to win it all. Instead, Martin -- the national player of the year -- broke his leg in the Conference USA tourney and UC bowed out in the second round of the Big Dance to Tulsa.
Patty Mills, Saint Mary's, 2009 - Unlike most of these guys, there weren't national title implications, but Mills' wrist injury caused the Gaels to lose four of five games (they were 18-1 before this stretch). That bad patch likely cost them a berth in the NCAA tourney.
Arinze Onuaku, Syracuse, 2010 - The strapping big man was unable to play for the top-seeded Orange in last year's dance. His interior presence could have made a difference in the four-point Sweet 16 loss to eventual national runner-up Butler.
Chris Sumpter, Villanova, 2005 - The leading scorer and rebounder for the sixth-seeded Wildcats tore his ACL in Round 2. Eventual champion UNC only held off 'Nova by a solitary point in the Sweet 16. Again, you never know ...
Loren Woods, Arizona, 2000 - The seven-footer averaged 15.6 points and 7.5 rebounds for the Wildcats, but he was forced to miss the tourney with back issues. The top-seeded Wildcats were then bounced in the second round by eight-seed Wisconsin -- a game in which the interior defense of Arizona was gashed all game.
Have an idea for a quirky Tuesday Team? Let me know at: Matt.Snyder@FanHouse.com