UConn's Gilbert speaks for first time about season-ending injury
Storrs — The fierce competitor inside of freshman Alterique Gilbert wanted to play through his shoulder injury.
But Gilbert realized that wasn't the best decision for his future.
Speaking to the media for the first time since UConn announced Tuesday that Gilbert would be sidelined for the rest of the season and undergo surgery, Gilbert talked about what went into his decision and what lies ahead for the point guard.
Gilbert dislocated his left shoulder playing against Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles on Nov. 17 and was diagnosed with a torn labrum.
"Me just being me, I was going to try to play through it," Gilbert said Friday. "I talked to my coaches, my teammates and my family and the best decision for me was to sit out."
It was a difficult turn of events for Gilbert, who was already becoming an impact player. He had moved into the starting lineup and averaged 10.3 points in three games.
"That's another thing that's frustrating," Gilbert said, "I started to get comfortable and then. ... Things happen, though."
Gilbert has been down this path before, injuring his left shoulder during the summer before his junior year in high school playing AAU basketball and then doing it again last April at the Jordan Brand Classic at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. He underwent surgery in early May and was healthy by the time the season arrived.
When it happened again three games into his UConn career, at first Gilbert tried to hide the injury.
"I was trying to like pop it right back in place as soon as it happened so I could just say nothing happened," Gilbert said. "But then I couldn't get it in place."
Gilbert has plenty of company on the sidelines as transfer Terry Larrier (knee) and Mamadou Diarra (knees) are out for the season.
A grueling rehabilitation process lies ahead for all three players.
"We''re just going to encourage each other," Gilbert said. "Even though it's a long process, we'll get through it."
Gilbert plans on making the best of a tough situation.
"I'm going to just take it as a learning experience, be a leader from the sidelines and learn things that the coaches want," Gilbert said. "I'm just going to learn the game. ... But we're focused on this year. We've still got a long season ahead of us. We're going to get better and it starts Monday."
UConn (3-4) plays Syracuse at Madison Square Garden on Monday. The Huskies are down to just eight scholarship players.
The date for Gilbert's surgery still isn't set, but is expected to take place after final exams. Gilbert would love to avoid surgery – he said he's still weighing his options and plans to talk to his family and coaching staff — but the only other route would be rehab.
Either way, his season is over.
"If I do have to have surgery, I'll have surgery," Gilbert said. "But I'm not looking forward to it, honestly."
Here's what coach Kevin Ollie said about Gilbert's surgery date: "We haven't made a decision yet. We're waiting for his parents. We want to know what doctor is going to perform the surgery, so there's a lot more steps to go before we find out the certain date that he's going to do the surgery."
Larrier's surgery a success
• Terry Larrier, a sophomore transfer from VCU, had successful surgery on his left knee on Friday morning at UConn Health in Farmington. He was back on campus by the afternoon.
"He's doing great," Ollie said. "He's back in the dorm. We've got some people taking care of him. He's going to be on the mend shortly."
Larrier suffered a season-ending torn left ACL with a medial meniscus tear against Oklahoma State on Nov. 21 at the Maui Invitational in Hawaii. A starting swingman, he was one of the team's top scorers and rebounders, averaging 13.5 points and five rebounds.
His projected recovery time is eight to nine months.
News and notes
• After Friday's practice, Ollie spent some time working with Jalen Adams, who had seven points on 3-for-15 shooting in Wednesday's win over Boston University. "He's getting better every day," Ollie said. "He had a tough shooting game last game but I thought his defense was good. He's just got to stay with it and just keep getting better." ... UConn will leave for New York on Saturday and practice there on Sunday. ... Freshman Vance Jackson hasn't lost confidence in his jump shot despite shooting just 31.7 percent (13-for-41) through seven games. "I'm a shooter, so I forget if I miss. I'm just going to keep shooting." ... Ollie is pushing center Amida Brimah to rebound better. Brimah had just four rebounds in 27 minutes against a smaller BU team.
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