Zach Lewis ices his ankle on the end of the bench. Photo by Jourdon LaBarber.

Canisius’ Zach Lewis injured vs. VMI

[Reactions: VMI 111, Canisius 100 + Postgame interviews]

By Nick Veronica

Canisius freshman guard Zach Lewis injured his left ankle early in the first half Tuesday against VMI and was announced out for the game shortly after.

Lewis was helped off the court and couldn’t put any weight on his left leg. He spent the rest of the half on end of the bench with ice on his ankle and looked to be in pain.

UPDATE: Here’s what Jim Baron said about Lewis after the game:

Keeping Lewis out of the game may be precautionary, but if the injury is serious, it would be a major setback to the Griffs’ offseason. Lewis, an MAAC Rookie Team selection, is the only starter coming back next season and looks to be the star of a very young team.

Lewis averaged 9.8 points per game this season. VMI leads Canisius 59-45 at halftime.

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Are we there yet? Griffs’ ninth win has signs things are moving in right direction

griffsalcorntipBilly Baron stood with the ball near midcourt Thursday night at the Koessler Athletic Center as the final eight seconds ticked off Canisius’ 87-74 defeat of Alcorn State when something unusual happened.

For the first time in a long time, fans stood up before the final horn sounded the end of a Canisius basketball game and applauded their team.

They cheered for Isaac Sosa, who couldn’t have been smoother on his way to 21 points. They cheered for Billy Baron, the first true quarterbacking point guard the Griffs have had in recent memory, who controls the tempo of the entire game.

They cheered for a team that could coast to victory on a night when second-leading scorer Harold Washington, bothered by a heel injury, didn’t even have to attempt a shot in his 20 minutes of play. They cheered for a coach who used timeouts to switch his defense not out of desperation but for strategy – and for how magnificently it worked, moving Jim Baron two wins shy of 400 on his career. Continue reading

Belardo injury not getting any better

Canisius coach Tom Parrotta revealed after the Binghamton game Wednesday night that the sore back junior guard Gaby Belardo has been dealing with for the better part of the season is being caused by a herniated disc.

The coaching staff has been trying to limit Belardo to around 20 minutes a game, depending on his pain level and his effectiveness. Belardo made it through 26 minutes last week against Loyola of Chicago and tied for the team lead with 10 points, but was limited to 18 minutes Wednesday night and just five in the second half.

“He didn’t look right,” Parrotta said. You guys saw it out there. He was laboring. … Where you really notice it on defensive end because he can’t get in the stance.”

Belardo didn’t practice all week and hardly participated in the walk through before the Binghamton game, Parrotta said. When Belardo’s not in the game, he can be found behind the bench riding the exercise bike to stay loose. While everyone else relaxes during halftime, he goes to the training room and rides some more.

“I hope to hell it’s not this way all year,” Parrotta said. “I’m getting to the point where we probably have to get our doctors together and trainers and say when are we gonna settle this once and for all. He’s done everything. He gets two to three treatments a day. He had injections. He had chiropractors. He’s had acupuncture. And it’s just not helping.”

Parrotta had back trouble during his playing days at Fordham and feels like he can sense how Belardo is feeling. “Every step hurts,” the coach recalls, adding that back trouble was the only thing that kept him out of games in college. Now he must decide if it will keep one of his players out.

“I talked to my staff about what the right thing is to do here. Do we just shelf him? We have to look at whats fair to him and what’s fair to the team. Is he helping us when he’s in there at the 20-minute mark?”

Belardo cannot sit out the rest of the year and redshirt because already used his redshirt year during the 2009-10 season after he transferred to Canisius from South Florida. The NCAA has medical hardship waivers that athletes may apply for to get an extra year of eligibility, but those are not given out very regularly.

“They made it sound to me like it was going to be a huge shot in the dark to accomplish that,” Parrotta said in reference to the waiver. “I would have exhausted all opportunities had that been the case, because believe me, I really asked for that.”

Canisius’ next game is in Bridgeport, Conn. against Fairfield on New Year’s Day. Sitting on a bus for an extended period of time won’t do Belardo’s back any good, but perhaps that’s one of the reasons the Griffs used Thursday as a travel day — to give the players more time to get ready to go Sunday afternoon.

The Griffs are already in a hole at 0-2 in MAAC play and will need Belardo as healthy as possible for their game against the Stags, one of the conference favorites who downed Canisius 68-59 in Buffalo Dec. 4.

“[Belardo] was a preseason all-conference selection and I fully expected him to be a postseason all-conference selection,” Parrotta said. “But not at 50 to 60 percent.”

Turns out throwing 100 mph is bad on the arm

Remember this guy?

So do I. I saw him pitch once. And with his most recent developments, it looks like I may get to see him pitch again.

About two months ago, he was all the rave. He was trending on Twitter and his starts were must-see television. In his first major league start against a Triple-A team Pittsburgh, he struck out 14 batters and wowed fans with blazing heat and knee-buckling hooks. The game was even broadcast live on the Internet–well, the first six innings at least.

But two DL stints later, Stephen Strasburg is yesterday’s news. Yesterday after an extensive MRI, it was revealed that Washington’s 15 million-dollar man has a torn elbow ligament and will likely need Tommy John surgery; a surgery that takes players a minimum one calendar year to recover from, usually more.

Just to spell this out: Strasburg will miss all of this year. He may also miss all of next year.

If this kid is as super-human as they say he his, he’ll be able to start throwing again next spring. Soon enough he’ll be throwing off a mound, and then he’ll work his way from simulated games to rehab starts. (Side note– what exactly is a simulated game? Is anyone else even on the diamond besides a catcher? If so, do batters swing? Or do they just stand in for pitches? Where can I watch one of these games? Or even better, where can I sign up to be a stand-in hitter? Well, not technically a hitter, but you know what I mean. Someone make this happen.) Once he begins rehabbing, they’ll have Strasburg start in the lower leagues and work his way up. But they way they talk about him in the press, I’m pretty sure he could strike out Single-A guys left-handed. If all goes according to (my) plan, he’ll be back up to Triple-A Syracuse about Labor Day next year.

I know you know what that means. Roadtrip! If the schedule doesn’t have Strasburg coming back to Buffalo, my schedule will have me going to Syracuse, or Rochester if they play the Red Wings. 

I know you’re bummed out that you no longer look like a fantasy wiz for drafting Strasburg in the second round (for your fantasy baseball team which is now doomed), but look at the bright side, you get to see him pitch again. If one is good, two is better, right? And the first time around was great. I’ll be sitting somewhere down the third base line. See you there.

P.S. I’ll bet you a hat of Dippin’ Dots at that game that Dr. James Andrews does the surgery. Any takers? Double-or-nothing Strasburg has another base hit in the game.

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O Captain! My Captain!

With the World Cup just seven days away, two squads took huge blows today when it was announced that their captains will not participate in the tournament. While neither player has fallen cold and dead, they both fell this morning and will sit out due to injury.     

The biggest loss is that of Didier Drogba, one of the world’s top strikers who plays for Africa’s top nation, Ivory Coast. You won’t find them on a map—they are officially the “Republic of Côte d’Ivoire” and prefer the French be used in all languages—but they have a legitimate shot at advancing from their bracket.     

Well, had.     

Without their leader Drogba, Ivory Coast’s chances take a serious nosedive. He is not only their most talented and widely known player, but their off-field leader as well. He is a cultural icon in the country, especially so after 2005 when he led Ivory Coast to its first ever World Cup qualification, one that put the nation’s civil war on hold.     

But now, he will be a mere spectator at the games after reports surfaced today that the 6’2” forward will not play due to a broken right arm suffered in a tune up game with Japan early this morning. He was subbed out in the 18th minute after having a knee collide with his arm during a tackle.     

A write-up of the injury says Japanese defender Marcus Tulio Tanaka was shown a yellow card for the tackle, but the match summary does not have any bookings listed for Japan.     

Drogba holds his arm on his way off the pitch

It should be noted that the report is coming from Ivory Coast players and that the Elephants have not officially ruled Drogba out of the contest.     

While no one ever celebrates an injury, this is certainly good news for Portugal, who will compete with Ivory Coast for the final spot to advance from Group G behind the mighty Brazilians.     

As someone who as broken an arm before, I would be disappointed in Drogba if he missed the tournament due to the arm. Certainly every injury is different and everyone’s body responds differently, but I know I could have played soccer with a cast on. Drogba is 32-years-old, which may make this the last World Cup he could play in, and it would be an utter shame should he miss it. I don’t think Ivory Coast has the talent to phase him out in four years, but his body may not hold up that long.     

Ivory Coast opens tournament play June 15 versus Portugal at 10 a.m. ET.     

England also lost its captain early this morning. Star defender Rio Ferdinand suffered ligament damage to his left knee during the English side’s first practice in South Africa.     

The injury occurred during training when Ferdinand attempted to execute what coach Fabio Capello called a “minor tackle.” He was later reportedly seen leaving a hospital on crutches, and England already has a replacement in mind.   

A fuzzy paparazzi shot of Ferdinand on crutches

The loss of Ferdinand will hurt England as he is one of the better defenders in the world, let alone on the English roster; however, England has more depth to cope with the loss than does Ivory Coast. The injury puts a damper on England’s spirit heading into the contest, but it does not drastically affect their outlook on advancing from Group C. I still expect England and the United States to advance from pool play, although this gives the States an edge against the otherwise more talented English squad.     

Steven Gerrard will take over as captain for England when they open against the USA on June 12. The game is at 2:30 p.m. ET and will be aired on ABC.     

Both Drogba and Ferdinand play professionally in the English Premier League; Drogba for Chelsea and Ferdinand for Manchester United. The video game FIFA ’10 rates Drogba as an 85 and Ferdinand as an 86.