Junior forward Keita Bates-Diop and sophomore guard JaQuan Lyle will not travel with the Ohio State men’s basketball team for its game at Maryland at 4 p.m. Saturday.
Bates-Diop, who is seeking a medical redshirt after having season-ending surgery earlier this year for a stress fracture in his left leg, and Lyle, who started the club’s first 23 games this season, are both tending to family emergencies.
“JaQuan Lyle will not play tomorrow,” said OSU head coach Thad Matta on Friday afternoon. “His 19-year-old sister had a baby a few days ago. There’s been complications, not doing well at all. He texted me a little bit ago and said she is taking a turn for the worse. What that means, I don’t know. I haven’t spoken to him, only via text. We’ve spoken with the mother and we’ve advised him to stay with her.”
Matta then explained Bates-Diop’s situation.
“Yesterday afternoon, got a phone call from Keita,” Matt said. “His brother, Kai, 16-year-old, one of the best players in the state of Illinois we’re recruiting, collapsed in practice. Had a heart attack. They brought him back and they flew him to Peoria, Ill. last night. Kai is alert and talking and all that stuff.”
Matta added that Lyle returned to his home in Evansville, Ind., Thursday morning and Bates-Diop, a native of Normal, Ill., returned home Thursday night.
“Hopefully, everything is going to be OK with those guys,” Matta said. “There’s been a rough 24 hours for our program.”
The head coach said the team did not find out about Lyle’s situation until immediately after the Buckeyes’ game vs. Rutgers Wednesday night.
“What’s hard is, just from the standpoint of these guys are your kids, man, and you hate to see them going through this with family members at their age,” Matta said.
Lyle has been the team’s starting point guard for much of the season while C.J. Jackson has mainly been the squad’s reserve floor general until recently. Jackson started OSU’s last two games (Michigan and Rutgers) because Lyle has been dealing with an ankle injury he sustained during practice a couple days before the meeting with the Wolverines.
More specifically, Jackson and Lyle are the only two true point guards on the team that receive significant playing time. With that in mind, Matta will have to improvise against Maryland on Saturday.
“The backup point guard will be determined by match-ups of who’s guarding who for (Maryland),” Matta said.
Junior forward Jae'Sean Tate said the team is prepared to share the point-guard duties when necessary.
“We have so many guys who are capable – not saying we have to run the point – but bring the ball up the floor, depending on the match-up," Tate said Friday. "Once we get into our offensive set, all parts are really interchangeable, it’s just getting into that that we have to be ready to do – initiating it, in other words.”
Bates-Diop last played Jan. 1 at Illinois, so the team has had time to acclimate to playing without him. Not having Lyle, who is averaging 30.4 minutes and 11.4 points per game, will be quite the adjustment, though.
“We’re going to miss JaQuan Lyle,” Matta said. “There’s a lot of things that he brings to this basketball team. It’ll be a blow for us but somehow, someway we got to find a way to get through it.”
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