The University of Miami men’s basketball team is starting off the New Year on a sour note. Senior center Reggie Johnson is expected to miss six weeks with a broken left thumb sustained during practice Friday before the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii.
He will likely miss at least 10 of the Hurricanes’ 16 Atlantic Coast Conference games, including games against Duke, North Carolina State, Florida State and both games against North Carolina.
Johnson did not play in Hawaii, and the Hurricanes (8-3) lost two of three games without him — 69-50 to No. 4 Arizona and 57-55 in overtime to Indiana State. He missed the first few months of last season following knee surgery and also sat one game for an NCAA suspension.
This year, the Canes had to play three games without Durand Scott while he served a suspension for improper benefits, and Bishop Daniels quit the team. Garrius Adams was also lost to injury.
“We’ve had this cloud over us since I got to Miami,” coach Jim Larranaga said by phone Sunday afternoon. “It really changes the roles on our team, makes things more complicated. We have to have our other players step up, and most of them have very little experience.”
Larranaga said Johnson’s rebounding will be missed. The 6-10, 295-pound center had been averaging 12.6 points and 10.1 rebounds per game.
“We were an average rebounding team, 10th in the ACC, even with Reggie, so this will hurt us,” Larranaga said.
The Canes play LaSalle at home Wednesday at 9 p.m.
The coach said he hopes Johnson’s positive attitude and leadership from the bench will help inspire his teammates. UM has played well in the most difficult non-conference schedule in school history, and has the nation’s eighth-ranked RPI.
“I told Reggie he has until February to get in the best shape of his life, so he can help us during the most crucial part of the
schedule,’’ Larranaga said. “But we got to find a way to get to mid-February without him.’’