TALLAHASSEE -- Yes, Florida State's season may appear in peril, particularly after Tuesday night's 84-66 loss at North Carolina State, but before the game, the Seminoles received a dose of good and timely news.
Terrance Shannon, the Seminoles' junior forward and high-energy extraordinaire, will be back in the rotation much sooner than originally believed. After getting a second opinion on a neck injury suffered exactly one month ago by seeing a spinal specialist Monday in Los Angeles, Shannon was cleared for an immediate return from the injury.
Coach Leonard Hamilton told reporters in Raleigh, N.C. after Tuesday's loss that Shannon was cleared for non-contact workouts. He added on his post-game radio show that he doubted Shannon would be able to rejoin the low post Sunday when FSU travels to Virginia Tech, but that he "could."
In the effort of full disclosure, the Orlando Sentinel did not make the trip to Raleigh. A school official confirmed to the Sentinel what Hamilton said in a closed post-game interview session.
Limited in what he could do athletically for much of the past month, Shannon will first have to get his conditioning up to par. It could take several days, if not longer, before he and trainers are comfortable that he's ready to play.
With respect to his conditioning, the Seminoles (14-12, 6-7 ACC) won't be looking for the veteran from Forsyth, Ga. to string together nearly 40 minutes a game. He'll likely remain in his previous role of coming off the bench and trying to be a catalyst on the interior on both ends of the floor.
Before his injury Jan. 19 in a 20-point loss at Virginia, Shannon had appeared in 16 games, averaging 22.3 minutes and 8.3 points per game. His 6.3 rebounds per game average still leads the team, and it will be on the offensive and defensive glass that he is expected to have his greatest impact.
He has been needed, too. Against NC State, the Seminoles were out-rebounded 39-18. They had just five offensive rebounds.
Wolfpack forward T.J. Warren had 13 rebounds on his own to go along with 31 points. C.J. Leslie's 19 points and 10 rebounds gave NC State two players with double-doubles.
Shannon's injury was so bad that it resulted in him getting loaded onto a backboard and carted off the John Paul Jones Arena court on a stretcher. He later was placed into a neck brace that he wore for several days.
As a result of how badly this season has gone, the Seminoles probably are at the point now when a run through the ACC tournament is the only thing that will get them a fifth straight NCAA tournament bid. With Shannon likely returning in time for three or four regular season games, as well as the conference tournament, they may have such a run inside them.
In addition to Shannon returning, the Seminoles also have made modifications to how fellow injured junior, Ian Miller, practices. Thanks to them, he has begun performing better and playing more comfortably in recent games. He had 11 points off the bench Tuesday, and that included a 3-for-5 showing from beyond the 3-point arc.
Aside from youth and rebounding issues, injuries have plagued the Seminoles this season. At just the right time, it appears they are finally getting a little healthier. While they do have a ways to go with respect to earning an NCAA tournament bid for the postseason, at least Shannon will be able to help.