Some unexpected news today from the U (via Amelia):
In an unexpected twist on what seemed like a manageable injury, the Gophers sent out a press release on Wednesday announcing that the forward wouldn't be back on the court -- either this year or next.
So much for day to day...
Osenieks, who last played at Ohio State on Feb. 22, has had cartilage issues in his left knee, spawning from old surgeries. The Gophers have downplayed the injury, not ruling Osenieks out of playing at Michigan until the day of the game.
"Unfortunately, this injury will limit his ability to continue playing beyond this season," coach Richard Pitino said in a release.
Oto is on track to get his degree this spring (Hats Off Oto!) and while the injury means the end of his playing career it won't mean the end of his time with the Gophers basketball team:
Pitino also said Osenieks, who is interested in pursuing a career in coaching, will remain with the team next season "assisting and supporting our team in day-to-day operations."
To do this, the U will seek a medical non-counter waiver with the NCAA (via Marcus):
The university will seek a medical non-counter waiver with the Big Ten on Osenieks's behalf, according to the release. If he receives the waiver, Osenieks could be on a non-playing member of the team next season but his scholarship wouldn't count against the Gophers' limit.
- Unexpected. I just assumed we might lose Oto for the season at worst. I definitely didn't think he was gone for longer based on how the injury was initially described. I suppose it's possible to over think this a bit and see the whole announcement as a little odd, given the limited specifics about why the injury will keep Oto from playing (i.e. he was encouraged to hang it up). Ultimately though going that direction requires too much tin-foil. I'm guessing the injury just ended up being worse than initially diagnosed or that Oto looked at where he'd be following rehab/saw Charles Buggs improving and decided it didn't make sense to come back.
- Scholarships. Assuming they get the medical non-counter waiver, this means the Gophers go from having 2 open schollies post Wally to 3 open spots coming into next year.
- Buggs. Obviously statement is obvious, but we're going to see more Buggs the rest of the season.
- Depth. The Gophers were hurting at the 4 before Oto went down. This...not helping. Was Oto an all-B1G performer? Of course not. And in that regard the loss is more one for this season (where I think many of us were already mentally preparing to be without Oto). But at the same time the coaches knew what they had with Oto and they've lost another body in a position where depth was already a concern and where we only have one signed incoming recruit.
I'm not sure we can expect Josh Martin to contribute immediately, which means the Gophers are down to a 2 man rotation in the power forward position. Figuring out the 4 spot for next season immediately moves even higher up Coach Pitino's priority list for the offseason (and you know it was already right at the top). JUCO PF? Yea, maybe a JUCO PF.