Junior Trey Thompkins, the Bulldogs leading scorer and rebounder, has battled injuries all season. In Wednesday’s 73-53 win over LSU, pain stemming from his toe became unbearable.
Coach Mark Fox had to pull Thompkins, who finished with eight points and five rebounds, from the game down the stretch.
“Certainly Trey’s injury, which is the toe--I’m not sure to be honest with you if he’ll make it through the weekend. We’ve got to get him healthy. He’s been hurt the entire year.
“Something with the nail,” Fox continued. “They cut part of it out yesterday. I don’t know. I can’t give you all the details.”
Playing without Thompkins isn’t new to his Georgia teammates. He missed the first three games of the season while nursing a severely sprained ankle. The Bulldogs went 3-0 in his absence, albeit against slightly lesser competition.
“We’ve done it before,” said senior Jeremy Price. “We’ve won without him before. We can play with or without Trey. Of course he’s a big part of our team as far as defensive, rebounding and of course scoring. But I mean, like I said, we have a pretty deep team and if he can’t play we need to fill in that spot.”
Junior Conner Nolte started the three games Thompkins missed. He later scored a season high 11 points against High Point in late December. Nolte may get the nod again, but has played sparingly since conference play began.
“I don’t think it will be that much tougher because we started the season without Trey, so we actually know how to play without him,” said senior Chris Barnes, who is another option to start Saturday in Thompkins' place. “He’s a big key to our offense. We’re going to have some guys step up, play hard, defend, rebound—like we always do. It’s going to be a tough game, but I think we’ll manage.”
Thompkins missed four games his freshman season (ankle) and none last year. He has battled through a sprained ankle, a sore shin and a toe injury to date this season.
When asked when the last time Thompkins was 100 percent healthy, Price jokingly responded: “Maybe when he was nine years old.”
Price then got serious.
“He’s a tough kid. He plays a lot of minutes,” he said. “Trey is a tough kid. Guys try to beat on him and out-tough him, but he’s a strong guy…he takes some hits, but he dishes some out, too.”
20 wins enough for NCAA Tourney?
With the victory over LSU, Georgia reached the 20-win mark in the regular season for the first time since the 1996-97 season, Tubby Smith’s last as coach (not counting the vacated seasons under Jim Herrick).
“That’s something Georgia basketball hasn’t done in the regular season in a long time,” Barnes said.
The win also padded a resume that is growing into a surefire lock for an at-large bid for the NCAA Tournament.
Georgia was ranked No. 36 in the RPI coming into Wednesday. Also, the Bulldogs have not lost to a team outside the top 50 in the RPI. Hitting the 20-win mark only added to a resume that looks destined for NCAA Tournament status.
Still, Fox is not quite comfortable yet.
“I wouldn’t sit here and tell you that we’re in the NCAA Tournament, and we can be satisfied with where we sit,” he said. “Now, if I was sitting here with the selection committee with some other coaches, I’d argue all day for our team. You darn right about it. I’d argue all day for our team because I think we’ve put ourselves in a great position, but we’ve still got some games to play. We can’t be satisfied.”
Despite what happens from here, the Bulldogs hit a milestone in wins this seasons, a “big step,” according to Fox.
“To get that in the regular season, I think, is an accomplishment,” he said. “I don’t know when the last time that happened was, but to get it in the regular season is something I’m proud of these kids for. They have won every game. The coach hasn’t won any. The players have won them all, and I told them (in the locker room) I think they have more games to win.”
Freshman Marcus Thornton missed Wednesday’s game with what Fox described as a, “deep laceration.”
Thornton, who is averaging 1.7 points per game, sustained the injury in practice this week.
“We’re just watching for infection,” Fox said. “I think he has a chance to be back on Saturday.”
Thornton, the 2010 Mr. Georgia Basketball, has played in all 28 games this season.
Back on track
Gerald Robinson admits he hasn’t played well the past few weeks.
He said his stat line (16 points, four assists, three steals and only one turnover) from Wednesday night’s win is what he needed to, “get back on track.”
“That’s definitely a game to help me get my confidence up,” he said. “My confidence never really was down, but just to know you played an all-around game—once you see that, it’s just like a great shooter seeing the ball go through the net. It helps you get that kind of focus. It’s definitely a good line.”
Robinson had failed to score double-figures in six of Georgia’s last 10 games. He also had four or more turnovers in six of those 10 games, including two contests where he had six or more.
“I’m the first to say I haven’t been playing up to my capabilities, for sure,” Robinson said. “I haven’t played up to my potential. So, I definitely plan on focusing in, getting back to the basics, paying attention to the little details and finishing off the season strong.”
Robinson is averaging 12.4 points per game, third best on the team. He’s dished out a team-high 108 assists.
“They were really special. Those kids have grown up. I had tears in my eyes. I walked down from the locker room with Jeremy and I made sure I walked behind him because I think I had tears in my eyes the whole way. I even took a detour because I didn’t want him to see me crying. Those are great kids. They could have made life hard for me when I came in here. But, they bought in to what I’ve asked them to do, and I’ve really been privileged to coach them.” – Mark Fox speaking about seniors Chris Barnes and Jeremy Price