There wasn’t much improvement on the injury front Monday for the East Tennessee State basketball team.
Point guard Adam Sollazzo (ankle) and forward Lukas Poderis (concussion) weren’t able to practice, and likely won’t again today. Guard Marcus Dubose (ribs) was limited to shooting and light, non-contact work.
All three players sat out the Bucs’ last exhibition game over Carson-Newman, and coach Murry Bartow is cautiously optimistic they’ll be able to contribute in the season opener Saturday at Virginia Tech.
“I’m hopeful by Thursday, with nothing else happening, the news will be better,” said Bartow. “It bothers me and concerns me. Even if we get them back, they’ve missed a lot of practice time here at the end of the preseason.”
Dubose may be the closest to getting back on the practice floor. He suffered a broken rib in the team’s first exhibition but didn’t realize it until two days later, perhaps because he was still pumped up from his 30-point debut.
The junior-college transfer didn’t practice at all last week.
“With Marcus, it’s just a question of how much pain he can play through,” said Bartow. “He’ll have padding under his uniform, but that’s still a tender area.”
With the countdown on for Saturday’s 2 o’clock game in Blacksburg, the coach says there’s a “fine line” on how hard to push the team in practice this week.
“You can get a little gun shy,” he said. “With three out, if we were to get another one or two injured, we’d be in real serious trouble. It’s a Catch 22, because if you don’t go hard you aren’t going to be tough enough to do what we need to do. At the same time, you’re scared about getting somebody else injured.”
Such concerns have made Bartow think twice about redshirting one of the team’s youngsters.
“I’ve considered it,” he said, “and there’s an outside chance we might redshirt one individual. But I haven’t discussed it with him yet.
“I wish we were in a better position with a more experienced team that we could afford to redshirt one or two.”
Bartow admits that a kid like John Walton would be an ideal candidate. But the lanky 6-7 freshman from Memphis may be needed sooner rather than later.
“It would be hard to do with John, because he’s fighting for minutes right now,” said Bartow. “He’s long and athletic with great instincts. And he’s an incredible listener, one of the most coachable kids I’ve been around. He wants to be critiqued, wants to be coached.”
The Bucs will likely get official commitments from a couple of high school seniors on Wednesday, the first day of the early signing period. Alabama guards Mario Stramaglia and Petey McClain verbally committed last month.