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Injuries feel like the cheapest way to miss games; especially freak injuries, which was how UK junior-to-be guard Jon Hood’s dad classified the now-torn anterior cruciate ligament in the right leg of Hood. Injuries are just so unpredictable and unavoidable and unfair. A player lands wrong, with no contact, and a whole season is now in jeopardy. Remember that “buzzard’s luck” UK head coach John Calipari always said Hood had on defense? Apparently, the buzzards didn’t leave him alone for the summer.
Hood appears to be taking it well. “Thanks everyone for the thoughts and prayers, This is an obstacle that I will overcome,” Hood posted on Twitter. “We have the best trainer and doctors in the nation. … I love my team and can not wait to get back out there with them! Thanks again for everything #bbn #recoverystartsnow.”
For Hood, it’s an obvious psychological and physical blow — but maybe not overbearingly detrimental. Recovering from an ACL injury isn’t easy, but it’s not as bad as microfracture surgery. It’s an injury that, in the current era, is expected to be fully recoverable at a high- success rate. A timetable for a return hasn’t been set yet, but with the typical recovery time at about nine months, Hood could redshirt the year and remain a junior heading into the 2012-13 season. Sitting an extra year and returning to play for a team that could be slightly less loaded with talent in 2012 might not be the worst thing that could happen to his career. It might not be what he wanted — Hood seemed ready to come in and fight to contribute, just as he was all of last year — but it might be what he needed.
For UK, it’s not that big of a loss. It sounds crass to say that about a player who just suffered an ACL injury, but Hood had trouble cracking a six-man rotation last year. Expecting him to be a major contributor on a team that could have six players drafted this year would be ambitious. Not that he couldn’t have done it — Josh Harrellson can be cited as an example of that forever — but it was unlikely. The biggest loss for UK will probably be his general presence, especially on the practice court. Having one less player who understands Calipari’s system is a negative, although Hood will be around to provide leadership in the locker room and on the bench.
Still, for a year that has a “we’re putting everything into winning it this time around” feel for it, every player’s contributions would help, even if that only was another 0.8 points per game from Hood. Instead, he’ll be on the bench. Not because Calipari wanted him there, but because he’s confined to it.