Injuries force Floyd to curtail practice
The trainer’s room has generated nearly as much foot traffic as the locker room during the first few days of USC basketball practice, much to the chagrin of Coach Tim Floyd.
Sophomore guard Ryan Wetherell was the latest to be injured after a collision with teammate Taj Gibson on Monday left a nasty gash above his left eye. Wetherell said the cut would require stitches.
Wetherell became the fifth Trojan to be injured either in practice or a pickup game over the last couple of weeks, leaving the team so depleted that Floyd had to curtail Monday’s practice for fear of losing more bodies.
“We couldn’t even practice if we had another injury,” Floyd said. “We had basically 10 guys out there.”
USC is missing four potential starters in sophomore guards Daniel Hackett (broken jaw) and Dwight Lewis (bruised quadriceps), freshman guard Marcus Simmons (sprained ankle) and freshman forward Davon Jefferson (sprained knee).
Only Lewis and Wetherell are expected to return in the next few days, though Floyd said Lewis didn’t appear close to full strength in limited drills Monday.
“It didn’t look like he was getting around very good,” Floyd said. “He got out there and we just walked through the plays just to try to get something accomplished. We couldn’t go at any game speed.”
Simmons turned his left ankle Saturday when he landed awkwardly after attempting to block a shot. He was issued a walking boot and said he would miss about two weeks, a lengthy stretch for a first-year player eager to make an impression.
“It’s kind of hard being on the sideline watching those guys,” Simmons said. “I want to be out there. I see them giving 100% and I just want to be 100% as a team.”
The rash of injuries has forced Floyd to use walk-ons Terence Green and James Dunleavy extensively in practice.
“It’s good for those guys,” Floyd said, “but we’ve got to get some guys healthy.”
Though Jefferson, who sprained his knee during a pickup game more than a week ago, could return by the weekend, Hackett will be sidelined for at least another month.
Floyd said he would consider using abbreviated practices the next couple of days until reinforcements arrive.
“We’ll just have to go on feel, [see] where we are and try to get some things accomplished,” Floyd said. “We don’t need to get anybody else banged up. We couldn’t even play five on five.”
USC will not play an exhibition besides its Cardinal and Gold intrasquad scrimmage before its season opener against Mercer on Nov. 10, the first time in Floyd’s 15 years as a college coach that he will begin a season without facing another team.
The Trojans will play an exhibition against Fresno Pacific on Dec. 8 at the Galen Center, a game that Floyd said could not be played earlier because of scheduling conflicts. Former USC assistant Jim Saia coaches the NAIA Sunbirds.
Floyd said he hoped to fill the competition void by holding the school’s first Midnight Madness event in five years as well as additional intrasquad scrimmages. USC also played a professional Mexican team early last month.