As if the East Tennessee State basketball team needed any more bad news.
Petey McClain, the team’s only point guard, injured his ankle in practice on Sunday and won’t be in uniform Wednesday night when the Bucs play at James Madison. McClain’s status past that game is uncertain.
McClain was on crutches and wearing a boot on his foot as he walked through the Minidome before Tuesday’s practice. He is scheduled for an MRI today.
“We’ll know more tomorrow,” ETSU coach Murry Bartow said. “But there’s no way he’ll play this week.”
The Bucs play at North Carolina on Saturday, then have five days off before traveling to Mississippi.
McClain, a freshman, was expected to play a lot of minutes after the dismissal of Sheldon Cooley and Marcus Dubose from the team left him as the only scholarship point guard on the squad.
“You just try to do the best you can, but obviously with him out and the other guys out, it makes it tough,” Bartow said. “Other guys have to step into new roles and we have to try to do different things.”
Sophomore Rashawn Rembert and freshman Yunio Barrueta will be the Bucs’ two starting guards.
McClain, who was leading the team in assists, isn’t the only member of ETSU’s walking wounded. Junior Kinard Gadsden-Gillard, who should be one of the team’s starting forwards, hasn’t practiced lately because of a nagging ankle injury of his own.
“We’ve X-rayed it, MRI’d it ... we’ve done medically everything we can do,” Bartow said. “But it’s not to the point where he feels comfortable enough to play. The frustrating thing is it happened three weeks ago today. We haven’t rested him the whole time, but it’s been three weeks. When he gets on the floor to practice ... he’s a real tough kid, but he’s not comfortable playing.”
The Bucs have been snakebit this year. Senior forward Lukas Poderis was lost for the season before it began with an Achilles tendon injury. Cooley and Dubose were booted after their drug-related arrests, and Jarvis Jones was declared academically ineligible for at least the first semester.
“Having to dismiss the two seniors, and Lukas being injured was a huge blow,” Bartow said. “But now with Kinard out and Petey out, it’s pretty obvious it’s not a good situation. It’s not so much the quantity, it’s the quality. If you were to ask me before the season who your top six or seven guys were, five of them are out right now.”
If Gadsden-Gillard can’t go, Bartow will have six scholarship players at his disposal Wednesday night.
“It doesn’t mean you can’t win,” he said. “We still believe we can win this game Wednesday night, but there’s zero margin for error.”