It took only the slightest misstep to end Angus Brandt’s season.
Brandt caught a pass and crumpled to the court clutching his right knee during Oregon State’s 66-58 win over Purdue in New York’s Madison Square Gardenon Friday in the 2K Sports Classic third-place game.
“I just ran out to the elbow and I kind of bumped my guy to get space and then as I reached to get the ball I pushed off my right leg,” Brandt said. “I think my leg was bent and I think I just pushed off in a funny angle. It was just kind of unlucky. Just the right movement did it.”
Medical personnel at the scene told Brandt it most likely was an anterior cruciate ligament injury but the only way to be sure was to get an MRI of the knee.
A nightmare scenario for a senior. A 6-foot-10 center, Brandt had been playing some of the best basketball of his OSU career at the time. He was averaging 11.3 points and 8.5 rebounds a game.
He returned with the team on a very long flight.
“I had to have my leg straight out in the aisle and I had to stand up every time someone would go past,” Brandt said. “I wasn’t able to sleep and I didn’t really sleep the night that it happened, so I was pretty tired and uncomfortable.”
The MRI did, indeed, show that Brandt had suffered a tear to his ACL.
He would not be playing any more basketball this season.
As tough as the news was for Brandt, there were positives.
There was no damage to his meniscus or other ligaments, so the damage could have been much worse.
The chances are very high that Brandt will get another shot at a senior season.
The Beavers have played four games and Brandt has to play in less than 30 percent of the games in the season (OSU has 31) to be eligible for a medical hardship waiver.
“If it’s going to happen, it’s better that it happens the fourth game of the year rather than if it happened four games from now, I might not get the year back,” Brandt said. “At this stage I think there’s probably a full chance I’ll be given the medical redshirt, so that’s good news and I’ll just work toward next year now and just support these guys for this year as much as I can.”
Coach Craig Robinson said he’s seen players return from a full tear of the ACL as soon as four months and as late as eight months.
He said a reasonable timetable for Brandt to be back and practicing would be six months.
“If he does the pre-hab and then the surgery goes well, I would say he should be ready some time in June and then by this time next year he should be full strength,” Robinson said.
On paper, the Beavers seem significantly smaller, especially while 6-10 Daniel Gomis is still nursing leg injuries.
OSU still has 6-10 Eric Moreland, who has been a force on the boards and as a shot blocker, and senior Joe Burton to rely on up front.
The team is also full of long, athletic players.
Robinson said he’s more concerned about how the team will play than the height of the players.
“It’s going to affect us from a leadership standpoint and the fact that he’s been through the wars in the Pac-12,” Robinson said. “That’s when we’re really going to see what we’re made of when we don’t have him down there anchoring the frontcourt in the conference.”
Losing Brandt will force Robinson to do a little lineup shuffling.
One move would be to insert Devon Collier into the starting lineup, but Robinson likes having Collier coming off the bench as the Beavers’ sixth man.
Collier has responded in the role. He leads the team in scoring with 15.5 points a game and had two big games in New York, scoring 21 points against Alabama and then coming up with 27 points and 14 rebounds in the win over Purdue.
“I like having a guy who can score a lot of points come off the bench,” Robinson said. “Last year we had Roberto (Nelson) and the year before we had Calvin Haynes. I like guys who can come in and have a scorer’s mentality. But it remains to be seen because if we decided to go bigger, for example in the conference, he might have to be a starter.”
Robinson hasn’t decided who will start, but is considering going with either 6-7 freshman Jarmal Reid or guard Challe Barton if he wants to go small.