Scooby Wright III, Kaleb Tarczewski, Ray Smith, Derrick Turituri, Nick Wilson, Anu Solomon, Jake Matthews, Freddie Tagaloa, Elliot Pitts, Ryan Anderson, Tyrell Johnson, Trey Griffey, Jacob Alsadek. Do you get the picture?
This is a list of both Arizona men’s basketball and football players who have missed time this season due to injuries, and I’m probably not even close to naming all of them.
Those aren’t the only names or sports either; look at Arizona volleyball, for instance.
The Wildcats are about to enter NCAA Tournament play against Western Kentucky and may very well be without two starters in Kalei Mau and McKenna Painton.
At the beginning of the season, Arizona women’s basketball head coach Niya Butts praised the fact she has a full bench to work with this season after so many injuries over the past couple years.
The injury bug, as many call it, has inundated the Wildcats’ system for some unknown reason. The year of injuries has plagued Arizona sports as a whole. There is no cause or reason, just a next-man-or-woman-up philosophy.
“The Arizona athletic department training staff better get a raise after this fall,” Ezra Amacher, Daily Wildcat sports reporter, wrote on Twitter.
Of course they should.
There are about 12,500 injuries per year in collegiate sports, according to the NCAA and Livestrong.
Arizona football’s schedule of 12 straight games could, in large part, have something to do with the surplus of injuries.
“I’ve complained about [our schedule] a bunch, and we’re not getting healthier, so that’s not helping,” Rodriguez said in a press release in October. “We’ve got to figure out a balance of having enough time to get ready and making sure our guys are fresh and ready to play the game.”
Basketball head coach Sean Miller also acknowledged his own share of injuries early in the season, and even before the season started, in his press conference Thursday.
“Going into early October, we’ve had, I think seven sprained ankles,” Miller said. “In three or four years, I don’t think we’ve had seven [total]. We’ve had guys that missed five days, seven days. Kadeem Allen separated his shoulder very, very early on. … Elliott Pitts, we thought tore his MCL, but didn’t, … but he sprained it. … Ryan Anderson has not practiced in two weeks.”
Luckily for the Arizona men’s basketball team, 13-year athletic trainer Justin Kokoskie is one of the best in the business. Miller has constantly praised him for his work with the team and has even hired Kokoskie to assist with the USA Basketball Men’s U19 World Championship Team, which Miller also coaches.
Golden State Warriors interim head coach Luke Walton even called Kokoskie “the best basketball athletic trainer on any level,” according to Arizona Athletics.
Unfortunately, Kokoskie wasn’t able to assist Tarczewski when he suffered his stress reaction and strained muscle in his left foot at the DirecTV Wooden Legacy. Kokoskie missed the game as his wife was giving birth to their third child, according to the Arizona Daily Star.
It was ironically the first game or practice that Kokoskie had missed in 15 years. Perhaps it was this unlucky coincidence that led to the fall of Zeus, but your guess is as good as mine.
“The team will be fine,” Kokoskie wrote via text message to the Daily Star. “We have the best sports medicine staff in the country. They have it covered. Tough watching these games on TV, but my family needs me this weekend.”
The “best sports medicine staff in the country” is an understatement, especially with the stockpile of injuries—that is still accumulating—the staff has dealt with this fall.
In the mean time, it’s time to get some Wildcats healthy.