ROCK ISLAND – The Augustana men's basketball team has been busy back in the gym this week preparing for this evening's game at 10th-ranked Washington University.
The nationally third-ranked Vikings have taken advantage of the holiday break to get in some extra work, as coach Grey Giovanine has run the team through double sessions after a short Christmas respite.
However, one Viking has been at home doing his own work and that is good news for the future of the program.
Giovanine reported that junior Pierson Wofford had begun his rehabilitation process after surgery on his knee.
“Surgery went well,” the coach said. “He's back in Springfield, doing good and getting ready to start his rehab.”
Along with the surgery going well, the veteran coach said that less damage was found in Wofford's left knee. He said that work only needed to be done on the anterior cruciate ligament and that the meniscus was not damaged.
“That's encouraging,” said Giovanine, noting a full recovery was expected.
Wofford was off to an amazing start to the season, averaging 14.7 points and 11.7 rebounds per game. He was injured on a routine play during the first half of play in Augie's exhibition loss at Illinois on Nov. 22. He was bumped on a drive to the basket and his knee gave out as he landed awkwardly on Lou Henson Court. Wofford left the State Farm Center that evening on crutches and with an immediate diagnosis by Illinois team doctors of an ACL injury.
Giovanine said that doctors normally tag the rehab for such surgery at six to eight months and that leaves everyone optimistic that he would be ready for the start of the 2018-19 season.
Tonight, the 9-1 Vikings renew a strong rivalry with the Washington Bears in St. Louis in a battle of d3hoops.com Top 10 teams. WashU leads the all-time series 6-4, with the team alternating victories in their last five games. The Bears won the last meeting in November of 2016 at Augie's Carver Center.
The veteran Bears have seven seniors on their roster and come in with an impressive 8-1 record. Among those victories is a 95-69 throttling of Illinois Wesleyan earlier this month in Bloomington. Augie faces the Titans next week in the Shirk Center when CCIW play resumes.
The Viking and Bears have two common opponents this season. Both beat Alma —Augie with a 65-53 home victory and WashU with a 96-86 road win, and Central of Iowa — Augie with an 82-73 road victory and WashU with an 87-83 home victory.
Augie comes into the game outscoring foes 81.0-65.3 and with a 40.2-32.4 rebounding edge. Wash U. is outscoring opponents 86.7-77.1 and has a 42.2-34.0 rebounding edge on average for the season.