Jan. 15, 2013
CHARLOTTESVILLE -- At Washington State, Tony Bennett's basketball teams suffered their share of injuries, but they generally were limited to bumps and bruises, sprains and strains.
At UVa, Bennett's first team avoided major injuries in 2009-10. Since then, however, the Cavaliers' inability to stay healthy has become one of the major storylines of Bennett's tenure in Charlottesville.
The setbacks, as UVa fans know all too well, have continued this season. Brogdon, who underwent major surgery on his left foot March 7, 2012, is redshirting while working to regain his pre-injury form. Starting point guard Jontel Evans missed nine games in November and December with a foot injury, and 6-8 junior Akil Mitchell, the Cavaliers' leading rebounder, has played the past three games on a severely sprained right ankle.
Mitchell, at least, has remained productive while he's hobbled. Darion Atkins has struggled to do so, and Bennett said Monday that the 6-8 sophomore will be shut down indefinitely.
"We're going to take it a week at a time and see how he progresses," Bennett said after practice at John Paul Jones Arena.
Atkins, who has started 12 of the Cavaliers' 16 games this season, including the past 11, has been bothered for about three weeks by pain in his lower right leg. Tests Monday revealed that he has a stress reaction near his shin, and after a practice in which Atkins did not participate, he huddled with Bennett and head athletic trainer Ethan Saliba to discuss their options.
UVa (11-5, 1-2) does not play again until Saturday, when ACC rival Florida State (10-6, 2-1) visits JPJ for a 4 p.m. game. Then comes a Jan. 24 date with Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. It's too early to know if Atkins might be available to face the Hokies.
After dropping two of its first three games this season, UVa reeled off eight straight victories, with Atkins playing a significant role in that surge. During a six-game stretch that began Nov. 20 against North Texas and ended Dec. 19 against Morgan State, he averaged 11.7 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.2 blocked shots.
But his shin began bothering him as the Dec. 22 game against Old Dominion neared, and he hasn't approached his early-season numbers since then. Atkins scored four points against ODU, none against Wofford, two against North Carolina, two against Wake Forest and, most recently, two against Clemson. Not coincidentally, perhaps, the `Hoos lost three of those games.
With 25 blocked shots, Atkins remains the Cavaliers' leader, and he's still second on the team in rebounds (4.3 per game). But his scoring average has dipped to 6.9, and he hasn't played more than 16 minutes in any of UVa's past four games.
"When you watch it on tape and just seeing him, he's kind of certainly favoring his leg, and he's not the same as he was earlier," Bennett said Monday on the ACC coaches' teleconference.
"I think sometimes you can play if you're not quite 100 percent, but you've got to be close, especially the way Darion plays and has been effective for us. I feel it's unfortunate for him."
The `Hoos hope to get Atkins back to where "he can go and play all out and fly around," Bennett said. "Because that is kind of his mentality, with his versatility and activity on defense, and when he's not able to get out and show on screens as much or be as active, it affects him and probably does affect our defense when he's on the floor, more than most guys."
The injuries that have plagued his teams at UVa are "unfortunate," Bennett said.
"Some of them you just can't control. You always stop and think about how hard these guys work. We've got the best trainer in Ethan, the best strength-and-conditioning coach in Mike [Curtis]. We try to limit how much pounding there is, but you know, sometimes when you go on foreign tours -- now, this has nothing to do with Malcolm -- you work hard in the summer, and you're always gauging that. And some guys are just predisposed to some of these injuries they get. And some are fluke injuries, a broken bone you can't do anything about, or a rolled ankle."
The Cavaliers flew to Europe in August and played five games: two in the Netherlands, one in Belgium and two in France.
The injuries have depleted UVa's depth, Bennett said, but "there's valuable experience being gained out there. The younger guys are getting that time and will grow from it, and we've just got to keep being patient and progressing."
Not all the medical news is bad for the Cavaliers. Brogdon, a 6-5 guard who was UVa's sixth man for the most of the 2011-12 season, took part in several drills with his teammates in practice Monday, and his workload is steadily increasing.
"He's in such a limited role, but it's great to see that he's progressing," Bennett said. "He's just doing a little more all the time. It'd be nice to have Malcolm out there [this season], but that's the hand we've been dealt, and we'll be better for it in the long run."
Brogdon, who can play both guard positions, will have three seasons of eligibility remaining, starting in 2013-14.
Revamped Cavaliers Ready for New SeasonMen's Soccer8/26/16Newcomers abound for the Virginia men's soccer team, which opens the season Friday night against Coastal Carolina at Klöckner Stadium.Stearns Making Mark on UniversityWomen's Soccer8/25/16A four-year starter for the Virginia women's soccer team, Morgan Stearns hold the program record for career victories by a goalkeeper.Spanish Journey Strengthens Cavaliers' BondMen's Basketball8/20/16The Virginia men's basketball team made strides on and off the court during its 10-day tour of Spain this month.
Director of News Content
A 1985 graduate of UVA, White worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch until July 2009. He was honored six times as the state's Sportswriter of the Year.
Todd Morgan Named SE Region Women's COY
Track & Field, Cross Country | 11/17/2015
Virginia women's cross country coach Todd Morgan has been named the 2015 U.S. Track & Field and...
Virginia Adds Bleser, Favero, Gullickson With Signing Class
W. Tennis | 11/17/2015
Virginia added a trio of five-star athletes with the latest signing class as head coach Mark...
Jeff White: Early Test Exposes Cavaliers' Flaws
M. Basketball | 11/17/2015
After losing 73-68 Monday night to George Washington in Washington, D.C., sixth-ranked Virginia...
Virginia Downs Norfolk State, 86-50, in Home Opener
W. Basketball | 11/16/2015
Seven players finished the game in double figures including Faith Randolph who...
Virginia Rowing Announces 2016 Schedule
W. Rowing | 11/17/2015
Virginia rowing head coach Kevin Sauer announced the Cavaliers' 2015 schedule on Tuesday (Nov. 17...
Virginia Earns 35th Straight NCAA Tournament Berth
M. Soccer | 11/16/2015
Virginia (9-4-3) plays host to Rider (14-5-1) at 7 p.m. Thursday (Nov. 19) in a first-round match...
Farm Bureau Insurance Coach's Corner with Mike London...
Football | 11/17/2015
The weekly "Coach's Corner with Mike London" radio program, presented by Virginia Farm Bureau...
Kickoff for UVA-Virginia Tech Game to Be Announced Nov. 21
Football | 11/16/2015
The Atlantic Coast Conference announced today the start time for Virginia's Nov. 28 home football...
- Online Stores