Men’s basketball forward Patricio Garino will be sidelined for at least the next several weeks after fracturing a finger during practice last week, an Athletics Communications spokesperson confirmed Wednesday.
The injury puts a big hole in head coach Mike Lonergan’s starting rotation, as Garino emerged as an immediate impact player last season on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.
Garino was seen wearing a splint on the finger earlier this week, and Director of Athletics Communications Jesse Hooker said the forward had surgery on the injured finger Oct. 25. Hooker could not provide a more specific timetable for Garino’s return to the court.
The news comes just days before the men’s basketball team opens its season this Saturday in an exhibition game against Bowie State at the Smith Center. The Colonials will then face Radford, Maine, Manhattan and Delaware State over the next three weeks.
For a team that found its identity last season on the defensive side of the ball, the injury is a significant early-season loss for GW. Head coach Mike Lonergan predicted that Garino would be both a double-digit scorer and a top five defensive player in the Atlantic 10 this year.
With Garino out, Lonergan has multiple options as the team looks to maneuver the first few weeks of the season. With the offseason addition of graduate student Maurice Creek, the Colonials could go small and start three guards – Creek, sophomore Joe McDonald and sophomore Kethan Savage. Lonergan may try different looks, though, experimenting with the play of senior forward Nemanja Mikic and junior John Kopriva, both of whom Lonergan said he expects improvements from this year.
Garino was just one of three Colonials players to start all 30 games for Lonergan last season. The 6-foot-6 sophomore from Mar del Plata, Argentina, was a strong defensive presence for the Colonials, setting a GW freshman record with 68 steals, while averaging 2.3 steals per game – good enough for fourth in the A-10 and 21st in the country. Garino also ranked second on the team in assists per game (2.1 apg) and third in points per game (8.8 ppg).
No stranger to injury, Garino was set to return to the Colonials lineup at the start of this season after having offseason surgery for a meniscus injury he sustained at the end of last season. Lonergan had said Garino sustained the injury with about five games left in the season, but played through it to help the team.
His strong play during his freshman campaign earned him A-10 All-Defensive Team honors, along with senior Isaiah Armwood, in the preseason media poll that came out earlier this month.
– Nick Ong contributed to this report.