NEWARK — In a season that has already seen a bitter loss to Fairleigh Dickinson and injuries to two of its star players, two more hits came down on Seton Hall on Saturday afternoon.
Already playing without Fuquan Edwin (ankle) and Patrik Auda (foot) just two weeks before the start of Big East play, the perennially snakebitten Pirates were dealt another crucial blow to their star-crossed fate when Sterling Gibbs came down hard on his right leg with an apparent knee injury in the final seconds of Seton Hall’s 83-80 overtime loss to Saint Peter’s at the Prudential Center.
“We’ll know more after he gets his MRI tomorrow, but it doesn’t look good,” head coach Kevin Willard said.
Gibbs had missed several practices leading into the game because of the flu and finished with 17 points and 3 assists off the bench in the loss. He is averaging a team-best 16 points per game.
“I saw it didn’t look good,” Seton Hall big man Gene Teague said of Gibbs. “I saw how he grabbed his knee immediately. It’s like a domino effect.”
The Pirates, who got a game-high 26 points and 10 rebounds from Brian Oliver, were riddled with injuries last season and Willard was forced to coach a depleted roster all season.
“It’s deja vu all over again,” Gibbs’ teammate Brandon Mobley said when asked about the Pirates’ mental state having to play with an undermanned roster for the second time in as many seasons. “Hopefully at some point we’ll have everybody back healthy, but you never know in this sport. It was sad to see. I guess we’re just going to have to move forward with what we have.”
“We can’t feel sorry for ourselves…conference play won’t let you,” Teague said. “We’ve just got to find a way through this.”
In addition to Gibbs, Seton Hall also lost center Aaron Geramipoor for the next 2-3 weeks with a sprained ankle suffered late in the first half.
The absence of Gibbs forces freshman Jaren Sina into the fire as he is now charged with running the offense, and gives walk-on Travis Berry a greater role in the Pirate rotation.
“Everyone will see more time as the backup guard,” Willard said.
Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.