Doctor’s orders will serve Mason Jr. well

Doctor’s orders are keeping Anthony Mason Jr. out of action for the next four to six weeks, a move that may keep him off the court when the men’s basketball team opens its season against LIU on Nov. 13.

Mason Jr.’s most recent ailment is a re-aggravated hamstring injury, one he hurt early in September that kept him out of the Red Storm’s Labor Day lineups in Canada and under the watchful eyes of team doctors ever since.

When Mason Jr. originally hurt himself, doctors limited him to light weight training, conditioning and physical therapy. Then he was cleared by medical staff, and last weekend he hurt himself again in practice. Team orthopedist Answorth Allen, M.D. – who splits time between the Red Storm and the New York Knicks – recommended four to six more weeks of rehab, presumably to ensure a full recovery.

Though Mason Jr. would probably want to spend as much of his redshirt senior year on the court with the rock in his hands as opposed to sitting in the trainer’s room, this is by far the best course of action for the swingman.

Over the last few years, Mason Jr. has not been healthy, suffering a sprained ankle that required time off late in the 2007-08 season and a torn peroneal tendon in his right foot that required surgery early in the 2008-09 season. All indications were that Mason Jr. would still be toying with his repaired foot entering the 2009-10 season, but would be healthy enough and hungry for a strong return to the hardwood.

Entering the season, “Young Mase,” as he is more commonly known, should have plenty left to prove. Though he
averaged 14.0 points per game two seasons ago, and ranks sixth among St. John’s all-time three-point shooters, Mason Jr. told the Torch last year he wanted to leave the University with a legacy. He probably didn’t anticipate a legacy of back-to-back injury-shortened seasons.

By rehabbing and fixing this injury before the season picks up speed, Mason Jr. would only miss the first few games of the season. While every outing is important, missed time is better served for non-conference games than Big East battles, especially when the Red Storm is confident it has the pieces for a Top 10 finish in the conference this year.

And though this year’s product is touted to be the most impressive St. John’s team in years, it could struggle again without Mason Jr. Last season, the team learned how much the absence of a big-time playmaker can hurt a team, and a 10-point first-half effort against Marquette in the Big East Tournament – the Red Storm’s last conference game – is all the evidence needed to suggest that Mason’s presence on the court, powered by his offense, could pressure opposing offenses into
consistent scoring and cut down big runs and momentum.

A healthy Mason Jr., complemented by the offensive firepower of D.J. Kennedy and Paris Horne, could be a deadly trifecta that prevents St. John’s from placing in the bottom of the
conference. So let Mason Jr. rest up for the start of the season.

Give him as much physical therapy as he needs to heal and get his mind set for the season.