Terry Maston suffered a broken right hand during Tuesday’s game at Xavier. He will have surgery Thursday and is expected to be out until January. Hand, elbow and wrist specialist Dr. Scott Hecox of Southwest Sports Medicine & Orthopaedics will perform the surgery. #SicEm pic.twitter.com/QPAFtDuZHO— Baylor Basketball (@BaylorMBB) November 29, 2017
With Terry Maston out at least 4-6 weeks with a broken shooting hand he sustained in the second half against Xavier on Tuesday night, Baylor is now down to seven healthy scholarship players. This season has turned into a nightmare scenario for Scott Drew and the Bears.
The injury obviously sucks for Maston, who is in his final year as a collegiate player. He had shown flashes of absolute offensive brilliance in the first half dozen games with smooth fadeaway jumpers and soft touch around the rim. His defense still falls short of average, but his ability on the other end usually justified his time on the court. He has begun to stretch his range out to three-point land, making his already excellent pick-and-pop game even more lethal. He takes up a lot of attention from opposing defenses, and his teammates will suffer for his absence.
And who knows how long Maston will really be out or what his condition will be when he does return. The official timetable seems to be a month, but that feels aggressively optimistic, especially when the injury is to his shooting hand. If he is able to make it back early in conference play, that would be a huge boon for Baylor, whose depth is now laughably thin.
Even if Maston does come back on schedule, though, it’s tough to know how effective he will be. He relies so much on skill and touch. Will he come back with the same confidence and smoothness in his jumper? To compound things, Maston already isn’t the most svelte looking dude. Will conditioning be an issue, or will he be able to maintain his training during his recovery? He already lacks quickness on the defensive end, so maybe a further dip won’t make him much worse, but almost any dip in his offense could make him unplayable except in very limited minutes.
Drew will now have to rely even more on Nuni Omot and Mark Vital. Tristan Clark is still around, of course, but he only earned 11 minutes against Xavier and 15 against Creighton. He has shown promise early, but Drew clearly trusts Omot and Vital more, even at power forward. When Baylor tried to make a push in the first ten minutes of the second half, Drew ran out a lineup of Manu Lecomte - King McClure - Jake Lindsey - Vital - and Jo Lual-Acuil for a long stretch. He did it in an effort to keep Trevon Bluiett in check by having Vital hound him all over the court. It was effective, for the most part, and Vital displayed impressive defensive ability for a redshirt freshman. Still, how often does Drew want to run a short Vital or a slender Omot out at power forward? That could mean disaster for Baylor on the offensive and defensive glass, however energetic those two can be.
This season might just be Drew’s biggest challenge in some time. The Bears were a thin, injured team before Maston’s injury; now he has three guards and four forwards for at least a month. Luckily, the schedule isn’t quite brutal just yet. Saturday’s game against Wichita State is obviously a tough one, and Baylor opens conference play in Lubbock at the end of December, right around when Maston could return. Playing a Big XII schedule with eight players seemed tough. Doing it with seven feels nearly unmanageable. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.