With six freshmen and few veterans, the 2002 Colonials need all the experienced players they can get. Unfortunately they will be without a big one-their anchor in the paint, sophomore Tamal Forchion. The power forward will not return to start the season, having suffered a broken left ankle when 290-pound former Temple standout Ron Rollerson came down on his foot in an Aug. 12 pick up game.
Forchion fractured his fibula, dislocated his ankle and tore the deltoid ligament in the ankle, sending him on an immediate trip to the emergency room this summer. In surgery the following day, doctors repaired the bone using a plate and about 10 screws.
The loss of Forchion leaves a likely starting lineup of sophomore point guard T.J. Thompson, senior forward Chris Monroe and three freshmen in the Colonials’ regular season opener at Connecticut Nov. 25. Even though six of the team’s seven freshmen add height, standing 6-foot-8 or taller, head coach Karl Hobbs said the loss of Forchion’s experience will hurt his team’s inside game early in the season.
“He’s a big loss, particularly this early in the season,” Hobbs said. “You lose a guy that has played the game and that can get you some points and rebounds inside. If there was ever a year when you really needed him, it was this year, because there are just so many young guys.”
The team’s younger players are all tall but lack the bulkiness of the 6-foot-6, 240-pound Forchion, which is why junior guard Greg Collucci said it is even more important to get the big man back in action.
“That was our brute force in the middle,” Collucci said. “We’ve got height now, but he brings that muscle.”
While the team initially feared Forchion would miss most, if not all, of the regular season at worst, the sophomore said his rehabilitation is going well. He said he hopes to return to the court for the start of the Atlantic 10 season in January.
“It’s actually coming along much better than I thought it would be,” Forchion said. “I’m getting into running and jumping now. I’m not in full stride, but I’m ahead of time right now.”
Fittingly, GW begins conference play Jan. 5 against Rollerson’s alma mater, Temple.
Hobbs said he cannot put a timetable on Forchion’s return, but he said the rehabilitation process has gone well so far.
“Over the past two weeks, he’s been very, very aggressive in his rehab,” he said. “And more importantly, he is in very good spirits.”
Forchion said he currently stretches and performs shooting drills with his teammates at the beginning of practice and works with GW athletic trainer Chris Hennelly for the remaining time, riding a stationary bike and sprinting on the sidelines.
While his injury has healed relatively quickly, Forchion said fatigue from the conditioning is his biggest obstacle right now.
“The fibula, that has no effect, it doesn’t hurt at all,” he said. “It’s the inside, where the ligaments were, that is affecting me a little bit. Everyday is a major progression, a major progression.”