(Photo – Kenny Larabee)
You don’t need to tell Tim Miles that his team is depleted. Nebraska was just dealt a significant blow on Monday, as the news broke that freshman guard Amir Harris had injured his meniscus in his left knee, less than 24 hours after Harris scored the go ahead game winning basket against the Hawkeyes in overtime.
Miles said that the injury occurred at some point in the first half. Overnight, it only got worse. Harris’s knee swelled and an MRI on Monday confirmed that Harris would require surgery on it.
Now, NU is down to just six scholarship players and two walk-ons, as Nana Akenten is suspended, Isaac Copeland tore his ACL against Maryland last month, and Karrington Davis tore his Achilles back in October. “I didn’t see ‘Scotty’ Frost running over here with some help, so he’s no good to us” Miles joked to reporters at the Hendricks Training Complex.
The football team may not be coming to the rescue, but Johnny Trueblood can fill the role of unlikely hero. The senior played 26 minutes against Iowa on Sunday. Although he did not score, Trueblood was plus 18 in the +/- column while he was on the floor.
Trueblood played solidly, despite the fact that he had little time to prepare. He was told that he’d be playing quite a bit against the Hawkeyes just a few minutes before tip-off. Now with the injury to Harris, he’s been bumped up into the starting lineup. Knowing that he’ll need to contribute significantly more minutes than the 5.3 minutes per game he’s averaged thus far, the Omaha native has embraced his new role with the team.
Trueblood told reporters on Tuesday that he planned on “being a guy that brings a lot of energy and tries to get us extra possessions, extra plays, and tries to move the ball on offense.”
Their opponent on Wednesday, Rutgers (14-16, 7-13 Big 10), beat Nebraska 76 to 69 back in January. The Scarlet Knights have some depth issues of their own. They will be without Senegalese forward Issa Thiam, who according to the Associated Press, has been dismissed from the team and will be deported after getting arrested on domestic violence charges on Monday.
Rutgers still possess some talented players though. They’re led in scoring by Eugene Omoruyi, who averages 13.7 points per game. Right behind Omoruyi, is sophomore guard, Geo Baker. The 6-foot-4 New Hampshire native averages 12.3 points per contest and leads the team in assists, at 4.1 per game.
“Their physicality, their depth, and all the things that come with it, are going to pose problems,” Miles said.
The Huskers could have a movie like ending waiting for them in Chicago. Whether or not it’s a happy one, will depend on what the team can scrape together with what players they have left.
*Coverage will start at 4:30 on Wednesday. Tip-off is set for 5:30.