Senior center Cameron Ridley suffered a fractured left foot during practice yesterday (Sunday, Dec. 27). He will have surgery tomorrow (Tuesday) in Austin and will be out indefinitely, according to UT.
This changes everything. Everything.
Ridley was playing like a legit All-American candidate, averaging 12.7 points (second on team) and 10 rebounds (first on team). He also has 37 blocks (second on team is Prince Ibeh with 9).
The Longhorns were making it a point to feed Ridley the ball really for the first time in his career and he wasn't disappointing.
With Ridley out the Horns will turn to Ibeh and Shaquille Cleare to fill his spot. I think Texas will be OK on the defensive end but offensively is where this could really impact the team.
Cleare is capable of doing some things offensively, he just hasn't been asked to do them all that much this season. He's averaging 2.1 points and 2.5 rebounds per game in nine minutes. He's going to have to step up and play like the dominant four-star he was out of high school. Keep an eye on his jumper. He can shoot if he gives it a shot.
Ibeh has always been more of a defensive threat. You know this. His offensive game is really about cleaning up off the offensive glass. He has a capable hook over his right shoulder but his post moves are limited.
Connor Lammert is the definition of a Stretch 4. He's a pick-and-pop guy so I don't really see the coaches asking him to do much more than he currently is on the block.
What you could see, at times, is Texas go with a smaller lineup - a la the Golden State Warriors - and run the hell out of their opponents. Tevin Mack can play the 4. It's not ideal by any means but he can play there.
What this really means is Isaiah Taylor is going to have to step his game up to a whole other level. Demarcus Holland is going to have to be much more aggressive on the offensive end, and those freshmen are going to have to bring it night in and night out.
And for all of this to happen one day before UT takes on UConn for its 7th straight victory... whew.