FROM PULLMAN — The news on Faisal Aden's knee is the worst possible. He's torn the ACL in his left knee, and will miss the rest of his senior season. Tough break for the Cougars, and even tougher for Aden, who was playing the best basketball of his career just before the injury. We have some more details after the jump, so read on.
There are no two ways around it — this one really, really hurts for WSU. Yes, Aden has his detractors, those frustrated with his shot selection, lack of dedication to defense, what have you. But the fact remains that Aden was one of few players on this team who could really score at will, and that offensive spark is going to be awfully hard to replace.
“It’s tough when you have an injury, it’s really difficult when you have a season ending injury, and it can be at times devastating when it’s a career ending injury,” coach Ken Bone said. “And him being a senior, he’s finished here at WSU, and that’s difficult for anybody. And it’s difficult for us. He was playing the kind of basketball that we saw when we recruited him out of junior college, just coming off his best weekend as a Coug, conference player of the week, national player of the week. Obviously, we’re going to miss him tremendously.”
Aden was averaging 14.5 points per game when he suffered the injury while attacking the basket late in the first half of Thursday's loss to Arizona. Afterward, official word was of a sprained MCL. On Friday, Aden was ruled out of Saturday's game, awaiting the team's return to Pullman to undergo an MRI exam. He was on crutches on Saturday, a large brace shielding the majority of his left leg.
Sunday was the MRI. The results came Monday.
“He’s had a bad knee before,” Bone said. “He’s always struggled with his knee and this could have just been a situation where it was the last straw as far as the stress and tension the knee could take, and all of a sudden the thing snapped. Instantly, I thought, OK, it’s his knee, he’s in a lot of pain, and we need to go forward with a different rotation. Unfortunately after the game, the news was a little worse what it potentially could be and then yesterday it was confirmed.”
Bone said he's not certain what Aden's role will be going forward, in terms of his presence at practices or on road trips. That will be decided in a meeting later today.
He had been playing as well as at any point in his career, scoring 33 points in a win over Stanford and 24 points in a win over California to earn Pac-12 Player of the Week honors on Jan. 23. Aden spoke last week about how happy he was to be healthy for the first time in a while — he mentioned that it was difficult to attack the basket while worrying about the health of his knees in the back of his mind — and it appeared as if he was turning a corner in terms of how he approached the game.
Now, WSU must find a way to make up for his absence, likely by committee.
“Continue to go to our best scorers,” Bone said, asked how the Cougars would approach Aden's loss on the floor. “So trying to get the ball to Brock Motum, give Reggie (Moore) more opportunities, DaVonte Lacy opportunities, and anybody else that might be scoring or shooting well on any particular night, depending what the other teams give up defensively. Some are great at defending the post area, some are great defending the 3-point line like Arizona. Trying to figure out what other teams do strategically defensively and then put our guys in a position where they can score.”