Suggs Suffers Another Setback

Hearing about injury news is never a good thing; it's even harder to take when you can't deal with it in person. Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar was in transit to New York City Thursday night when the news came through that senior guard Scott Suggs had fractured his foot.

As he was getting ready to take part in a dinner celebration for the Jimmy V Foundation, Romar's thoughts were actually 3,000 miles away with one of his fallen captains.

The connection Romar and Suggs have isn't your normal coach-player connection. Romar is closer to being Suggs fun-loving uncle, the old guy that schooled the young Suggs in his own driveway a decade ago; the coach that saw enough in the former Mr. Basketball Missouri to offer him a scholarship and pursue him doggedly throughout the recruiting process, eventually earning Suggs' commitment.

"Felt bad for him," Romar said Friday afternoon when asked about Suggs. "He had worked hard. He's playing so well. He's playing with a high level of confidence. You could just see it. I'd feel bad for him if he was a junior or a sophomore, but as a senior that's when you want everything to go right. You don't want any setbacks. So I felt bad for him. That was my initial thought."

Suggs hurt his right foot while slipping in the shower Thursday. Apparently the foot had been a bit bothersome the last couple of weeks, but nothing to raise any eyebrows. But when he slipped, the foot popped. Doctors inserted one screw in Suggs' injured foot Friday afternoon, and he is expected to be out up to eight weeks. That means he could miss all the major non-conference games, including the one scheduled in his hometown of St. Louis.

"The only reason we're playing that game is for him," Romar said of the Nov. 20th game versus the Saint Louis Billikens. "I know a lot of people were excited to see him play. It's amazing, the timing of it."

Depending on the severity of his rehab, Suggs will still travel with the team and perform his functions as one of Washington's captains. "People look up to him because he's been here for four years," said junior center Aziz N'Daiye, who is also Suggs' roommate. "We'll miss him for a little bit, but it's good that it happened early on. He'll bounce back and come back strong. "I think he's mentally tough enough. He's been through injuries from last year and the year before. He's going to keep his head up and come to practice. Even though he's out, he's still a leader."

It is an incredibly tough blow for Suggs, who has battled through some nagging injuries during his time at Washington, the last being an MCL sprain he suffered during the last game of the Maui Invitational. He battled back from missing four games to lead the Huskies in three-point field goal percentage (.450). Unfortunately it's not the first foot injury for Suggs, who actually turned to basketball after foot surgery forced him to turn away from track and field - his first love, but it's unclear whether or not his fracture has anything to do with the earlier surgery.

The Huskies had to deal with another injury blow to one of their top guards - Abdul Gaddy - last year. "Whenever something like this happens, guys are down," said Romar. "It's one of their family members. But it's not like Tyreese (Breshers), who couldn't play any more. It's not like Abdul, season-ending. Scott will be back."

That's why any talk about Suggs redshirting - he does have a year available if he chose to go that route - has not happened yet, nor will it - according to Romar. Romar also said that even if Washington were to lose another guard in the meantime to injury, that worst-case scenario would not be enough to burn the redshirt of freshman guard Andrew Andrews.

"How many guards do you play in a game?," Romar asked. "A case could be made for if we had three guards they would all play 30, 35 minutes a game -- like a lot of teams in our conference do. You look at SC and Cal over the years, those guys have logged a lot of minutes, they play a lot of minutes. That's just what would happen. When you say 'thin,' you don't have as many guys, you're not as deep. But I don't see it (as) 'What are we going to do now? We don't have enough players.' I don't see it that way. That's one of luxuries of having depth, and why it's important to have depth, because you never know when something like this is going to happen."

Given a generous recovery timeframe, Suggs should still be back and fully-fit by the time conference play rolls around on December 29th, when the Huskies host Oregon State. And when he is cleared to play, Romar believes Suggs will jump right back into the battle for immediate playing time. "He won't have to learn anything we're doing. He knows it. It'll take him a few days - I mean literally a few days probably to being back in the right condition. Because when you come back from an injury like that it's not like the eighth week you start to condition. He'll start the conditioning in several weeks. So when he comes back, it won't take him long."

The Huskies had to live without Gaddy for the rest of the year, and now they'll have to live without another leadership cog in Suggs for an extended period. The questions will continue to dog Romar, because he knows the what if's as well as anyone.

"You're talking about a senior captain, and he was playing his best basketball. So you lose that," said Romar of Suggs. "And he was our leading shooter, shooting 45 percent from the 3-point line. You lose that, you lose a defender, you lose a guy who's experienced with know-how and was playing really well. In spite of our depth, that's still losing a lot as far as I'm concerned.

"But he'll be back."

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