Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said he believes his team can adjust and succeed without star forward Chris Singleton, who fractured his right foot against Virginia on Saturday.
Why? Because Hamilton already has seen a couple of ACC basketball rivals do something similar.
Singleton's bad break is just the latest in a rash of injuries to key players around the league this season - including Duke's Kyrie Irving, Virginia Tech's Dorenzo Hudson and Virginia's Mike Scott.
"I've seen injuries, but so many key players? No, I have not seen a year like that [in the ACC]," said Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt. "And I just think it's one of those things, just a freak occurrence."
Singleton was scheduled to have surgery on Monday, but Hamilton wouldn't speculate on a return timetable for the 6-foot-9 junior. FSU- which relies on suffocating defense to wear out foes - lost one of the best defensive players in the nation. But Singleton, who led the team with 13.8 points and 7.1 rebounds, was starting to find his groove offensively, too; he scored 11 of his team's first 13 points before he was injured, and he was coming off a 16-point game at Georgia Tech.
"We're not going to really replace a guy who's 6-9, with the quickness to guard anybody from '1' to '5,' " Hamilton said. "... On the offensive end, I just think everyone will need to pick it up a little bit, and I think maybe we can absorb that better than we can the physicality of what he brought to our team."
One of the biggest problems with losing Singleton is the timing. Whereas the Devils lost Irving and the Hokies lost Hudson early on, the Noles have less than a month left in the regular season for the players to sort out and learn their new roles.
Hamilton - whose team also lost forwards Xavier Gibson and Terrence Shannon to injuries earlier this season - is convinced that at 8-3 in the league, his team still can make a stretch run.
"But you've just got to make the adjustments," Hamilton said. "Obviously, when you look around, Duke made the adjustment, Virginia Tech has made the adjustment. I feel that we have to do the same thing. That's why I'm encouraged that we have enough examples of teams that have been able to make the adjustments, and we have to put ourselves in the same mental frame of mind."
One of the feel-good stories of the season is quickly becoming Boston College guard John Cahill - a walk-on, and former practice player for the women's team, who scored a career-high nine points in a career-high 25 minutes against Maryland.
"He knows how to play, knows how to defend, goes after loose balls...and he makes us a better basketball team," Eagles coach Steve Donahue said.
The son of an official, Cahill gave up the chance to play basketball at the Division II or III level to attend BC. Eagles assistant Woody Kampmann had once recruited Cahill to Hobart College, and when the team needed practice players, he contacted Cahill last spring about walking on. The 6-1 guard had played in 16 games, scoring five points on one occasion, before his 3-for-4 performance against Maryland. Donahue said knee tendinitis had limited the player - until now.
"He's someone who can help us - not all the time, not every game," Donahue said. "But he's someone that can make us better."
N.C. State forward Tracy Smith scored 20 points in 29 minutes on Sunday and "didn't show any signs of pain," coach Sidney Lowe said Monday.
Smith, a senior, has been slowed by tendinitis in his surgically repaired left knee. The win over Wake marked the first time in three weeks he had scored more than 13 points.
Lowe gave Smith four days off from practice last week.
"It was huge for him to be able to rest," Lowe said.
Staff writer J.P. Giglio contributed to this report.
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