Things went from bad to worse Wednesday for the Temple men's basketball team when it was discovered that the knee injury center Micheal Eric suffered in practice last week will sideline the Owls' best big man for the next six weeks.
Eric, who missed the final 10 games of the regular season last year with a fractured right patella, injured the same knee last Friday at practice. Eric was examined by team physician Roy Moyer on Wednesday.
"As a coach, the first thing that you think about when something like this happens is the athlete," Temple coach Fran Dunphy said. "Micheal has worked so hard to get to this point, and you feel sorry for him."
Temple is 3-2 and has yet to play a home game. Coming off a 67-64 loss at Bowling Green, the Owls will host Central Michigan on Saturday in their home opener.
A graduate student, Eric has been the best big man on a roster that is short on size. He is fourth on the Owls in scoring, averaging 10.5 points per game. He also averages an Atlantic Ten Conference-leading 11.3 rebounds per game. He is also averaging a pair of blocks per game.
Eric had double-doubles in two of the Owls' first four games. In a victory over Western Michigan on Nov. 17 he pulled down a career-high 15 rebounds while scoring 12 points. Three days later, against Wichita State, Eric scored 14 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.
"He has played a very big role for us in just four games," Dunphy said. "He has played some very good basketball for us. It is going to be a challenge for us as a team to replace him."
Dunphy will go with redshirt freshman forward Anthony Lee in the starting lineup in place of Eric.
Eric's loss complicates what has not been a very good week for the Owls, who were expecting to have swingman Scootie Randall back in the fold by mid-December. However, the senior, sidelined since having surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee in June, now says he does not know when he will return to the team.
Randall missed seven games with a hairline fracture in his right foot last season, when he averaged 10.7 points and 4.7 rebounds per game.