When Michael Lyons got injured for Air Force in the second minute of their quarterfinal game with UNLV yesterday, he joined a rare club – the guys who start but don’t play more than two minutes in the game. According to my database, there were about 60 such cases involving Division I players this season. In Lyons’ honor, I thought it would be interesting to recap the circumstances of some of them.
There were three cases when a player started and didn’t record one minute in the box score. As you might imaging the story behind each of them involves an injury.
– The most tragic belongs to TCU’s Amric Fields, who played 12 seconds against SMU on November 15 before suffering a season-ending knee injury.
– Morehead State’s Drew Kelly converted a bucket 23 seconds into a November 26 game with Norfolk State but suffered an ankle injury that would sideline him for the next two games.
– The shortest appearance goes to Eastern Washington’s Kevin Winford, who was on the floor just three seconds against North Dakota on March 2 before being removed. This was a senior-day thing, but Winford was actually a key contributor to the Eagles who normally would play a bunch. However, he was recovering from surgery and apparently not able to physically contribute.
There were other cases involving injury where a player at least got on the floor for 30 seconds, most notably:
– Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar sat Scott Suggs after suffering a head injury two minutes into their game against Albany, but he played 32 minutes in the Huskies’ next game.
– Michigan State’s Gary Harris hurt his shoulder early against Boise State and was back three games later (despite some seriously pessimistic statements from Tom Izzo after the game).
– Michigan’s Jordan Morgan suffered an ankle injury early in their win at Illinois. He basically took three weeks to recover, but is back in John Beilein’s rotation.
There are a bunch of senior day cases where a seldom-used player gets an honorary start and sits quickly. But there are also a surprising number of cases which appear to be a coach’s decision. Some are unexplainable like Syracuse’s DaJuan Coleman playing two minutes against Providence or South Carolina’s Brian Richardson getting two minutes against LSU. But a couple stand out for the player’s performance in his brief time.
– Buffalo’s Corey Raley-Ross played two minutes against St. Bonaventure on December 1 and was removed permanently. Probably due to the two turnovers and one foul he committed during that stretch.
– Memphis’s Ferrakohn Hall began the season in the starting lineup. In his third game against VCU, he committed two fouls in the first two minutes, watched the rest of the game from the bench, and hasn’t started since.
Finally, one unique case ties into Wednessday’s events in the Thomas & Mack Center. Colorado State’s Dorian Green played one minute in a November 15 game against Chadron State after suffering a concussion late in the season opener against Montana. Larry Eustachy started him for a reason I’ve never before seen – to maintain a consecutive-start streak.
It was a streak that ended in yesterday’s quarterfinal game against Fresno State when Green was benched due to a nagging ankle injury. Presumably, the ceremonial start would have been a bit much against a competitive opponent.