Here’s a little challenge for loyal readers out there – name a Maryland basketball player in the last 15 years whose career was as riddled with bad luck as Jerome Burney‘s.
Burney, who has a stress fracture in a foot, will be out for three-to-six weeks. This comes two seasons after foot problems forced the affable Georgian (that’s the state, not the country) to redshirt. Last year, of course, he was a lost man at the end of the bench before providing a bit of a lift late in the season.
There were guys who had injuries of some kind or another – D.J. Strawberry, Tahj Holden, Obinna Ekezie spring to mind – but those were one-time things and didn’t prevent any of them from ultimately enjoying solid-or-better careers. Ekezie’s was poorly timed, but he still enjoyed a fine four years overall.
I racked by brain and came up with two other contenders for a college career derailed by bad luck.
One was the late LaRon Cephas, whose first two seasons were riddled with injuries. By the time the forward was finally healthy in 1999-2000, the Terps had Danny Miller and Lonny Baxter and Terence Morris and Holden. Cephas was stuck as ninth man, but he was still a vital presence on Maryland’s first Final Four team.
The other name that springs to mind is Sterling Ledbetter. The junior college transfer was in an automobile accident months before arriving in College Park, and he played two relatively unremarkable seasons (2004-05 and 2005-06) with the Terps. He was never quite the player Maryland imagined he would be, and the conventional wisdom says the accident had something to do with it.
Burney’s career arc looks a bit like Cephas’, right down to the redshirt season to start things off. Foot injuries don’t always heal quickly, and it would not be surprising if Burney’s effectiveness is limited the rest of the way.
That’s a shame for Burney, who is typically one of the most upbeat guys in Maryland’s locker room. But it’s also a tough break for the Terps, whose rotation seemed to have a place for Burney’s 5-10 minutes of frenetic play.
Now the tinkering will begin anew – and the chance to find out what’s in coach Gary Williams’ plans arrives tomorrow along with Delaware State.