When asked after Thursday's beatdown of Georgia Tech whether he'd be able to play on Sunday, Virginia senior center Assane Sene responded immediately, "Definitely," adding that both he and team doctors are going to do their best to get him back in the game against Virginia Tech.
Turns out, he was a liar.
Virginia just announced today that Sene underwent surgery on his right ankle today, Friday, and will be out for approximately the next six weeks. What was originally described by Coach Tony Bennett as just a roll turned out, according to x-rays, to be a fracture.
"Assane is a senior and an integral part of our team," said Bennett in today's release. "In all my years of coaching, he is one of the most team-first players I've been around. I know he'll do whatever he can from a rehabilitation standpoint to try and return to action before the end of the season."
With 17 starts on the season, Sene is averaging 4.9 points, 3.7 rebounds and 0.9 blocks per game. He is tied for sixth on Virginia's career list for blocked shots with 108.
If you asked me three years ago whether I'd be upset at this, the answer was a clear no. But with Sene's marked improvement, turns out he is key on both ends of the court. Stepping up in his place is likely Akil Mitchell, who has played in all 17 games this season, averaging 3.5 points and 4.1 rebounds in 17.9 minutes per game. At 6-8 and 234 pounds, he's smaller than Sene and will have a harder time blocking down low, but I think he has a better shot and could help us out offensively going forward.
I hate to be that guy who says, before every game, that "this upcoming game is HUGE," but it really is. I'll be interested to see how the team copes with this loss against a Virginia Tech who is blood thirsty for a win. The Hokies might be 0-4 in the conference, but they played Carolina hard last night, leading them for much of the first half before the Tar Heels dominated the second half. The other three losses were by 3, 4 and 2 points, respectively, with two of them being on the road.