Jarell Martin’s Injured Ankle Pressures LSU Backcourt to ProducePosted by Justin Bridgman on November 13th, 2013
Jarell Martin’s college career got off to a disappointing start yesterday, as he sprained his ankle during the first minute of LSU’s 92-90 season-opening loss at Massachusetts. Martin missed his only field goal attempt of the game, and never returned after the injury. Head coach Johnny Jones has yet to give an estimate on how severe the injury is or how long it will keep Martin out, but he did stress that the team will be extremely cautious with its precocious freshman.
In the short term, Martin’s absence was noticeable in the way Jones worked his rotation. The Tigers missed his presence with the team’s early foul trouble, especially when Johnny O’Bryant was forced to stay in the game with two early fouls. He was the only player scoring for the Tigers at the time, but his presence on the floor led to a third first half foul, costing him playing time later. Had he not been injured, Martin would have been able to shoulder some of the scoring load and perhaps Jones would have been more comfortable keeping O’Bryant on the bench had he trusted someone else to score. Based on how close the game was at the end, and the way LSU struggled to score when O’Bryant was out, it seems safe to assume the Tigers could have won had Martin been healthy. At the very least, LSU would have avoided the scoring issues that plagued them for long stretches in both halves.
Should Martin miss more than the next few games, LSU will likely struggle to score inside. O’Bryant will face regular double teams, and the pressure will be on freshman Jordan Mickey to pick up his scoring. Martin presents the kind of inside-outside threat that serves as a great complement to O’Bryant’s bruising inside play. Until Martin returns, the Tiger guards will need to pick up the scoring slack by knocking down their open shots so that O’Bryant isn’t swarmed down low. Anthony Hickey and Andre Stringer are both proven scorers, but freshman Tim Quarterman will have to show himself a threat to keep defenses honest. At the moment, this is a team that relies far too much on a single player staying out of foul trouble. Despite these issues, the Tigers still only lost by two points on the road against a very good UMass team. If Martin’s ankle injury doesn’t linger, LSU still has a successful season ahead of it.