BLOOMINGTON -– Austin Etherington's bid to be the next Matt Roth in the Indiana basketball picture is over for a year.
The reserve sophomore guard had season-ending surgery to repair a fractured patella (knee cap) on Sunday morning, less than 24 hours after hurting it against Central Connecticut State.
Etherington and the Blue Devils' Terrell Allen banged knees late in the first half. Etherington went down in obvious pain. His teammates lifted him to a stretcher and by halftime he was on his way to the hospital.
Dr. Steve Ahlfeld performed the surgery in Indianapolis. Etherington will have to keep the knee immobilized for about two months, which means he'll have a lot of muscle atrophy to overcome. Rehabilitation usually takes eight months. If everything goes well, he should return for next season.
The 6-6 Etherington averaged 2.2 points and 1.8 rebounds in 7.5 minutes. The goal was to develop him to replace the graduated Roth's three-point shooting role off the bench, although that hadn't happened yet. He was 1-for-3 from beyond the arc for the season, 3-for-11 for his career.
Etherington only scored in three of the seven games he played for the top-ranked Hoosiers this season, with a high of six points against Sam Houston State. He tied his career high with four rebounds against Coppin State.
“Anytime you lose a valued member of your program it not only hurts the team, but also everyone's hearts,” Crean said in a university release. “Austin has been doing an excellent job improving and now we have to help him overcome this setback and move forward.
“Our players have experience in this area and everyone is looking forward to helping him recover. As serious as his injury was, we are thankful that it was not worse. We have such an outstanding medical team I could not imagine going through something like this without them. We are fortunate to have them.”
Etherington faces the same rehabilitation Maurice Creek endured a couple of years ago when he fractured his patella.
It's Etherington's second major injury to his left knee. He had surgery on it while at Hamilton Heights High School near Indianapolis, and missed much of his freshman season and part of his sophomore season.
Etherington was huge in the recruitment of forward Cody Zeller. They were AAU teammates with Indiana Elite. Etherington committed to IU first.
Top-ranked IU (9-0) still has plenty of backcourt depth with Jordan Hulls, Victor Oladipo, Yogi Ferrell, Remy Abell, Maurice Creek and Will Sheehey.