A couple weeks ago, Stanford Cardinal guard Aaron Bright became injured when he dislocated his right shoulder during a practice. Bright elected to undergo surgery, which is scheduled for Jan. 3, to fix his shoulder. The catch, however, is the surgery will effective end Bright’s season, leaving coach Johnny Dawkins and his team without the 2012 NIT MVP. This has left people wondering how big a blow this will be to the Stanford team, and while losing a good player is never ideal, I don’t believe it’s to be that bad for Stanford.
First of all, Aaron Bright comes off the bench to play, and the two guys who have been starting have done a phenominal job: Chasson Randle is averaging 18.2 points per game and Anthony Brown is averaging 16.3 points per game. Basically, what I’m saying is that Stanford has people who are very capable of playing the guard position. It would be better to have someone like Bright to give those two guys a chance to rest, but it would be a bigger loss to lose them instead.
Aaron Bright was already having a disappointing season before the season-ending injury. Last season, he was averaging almost ten points per game, but this year, he was only averaging a little of five. Bright hasn’t played poorly be any means, but as I mentioned, he was the MVP of the NIT last year after his performance in helping the Cardinal win the tournament. We didn’t get to see that level of play out of his this year; that’s why his season has been disappointing.
Perhaps Bright’s biggest asset has been his leadership both on and off the court. He unfortunately won’t be able to play any more, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be able to impart his wisdom on other players. He may not be able to be a leader on the court anymore, but that’s won’t stop him from doing so off the court; I can guarantee you that.
The final reason why Bright’s loss won’t be as bad for the team as many people fear is because Stanford’s biggest problem isn’t their lack of depth in the back court. Their biggest problem, by far, is turning the ball over. The Cardinal has won both of its games while Bright has been on the bench, but they turned the ball over 13 times against South Dakota State and 12 times against UC Davis. Luckily, South Dakota State turned the ball over 15 times themselves and UC Davis likewise turned the ball over 14 times.
The biggest blow from Aaron Bright’s injury comes on the implications of his career at Stanford. Bright is a senior this year, so it would be the last year he could play. To prevent this, he took a medical red shirt, giving him the ability to play next year. That’s good news; however, Stanford apparently won’t be giving out any more scholarships for next year, so Bright won’t be able to play unless he wants to pay full tuition. He has opted to not do this, but instead graduate and transfer to do graduate work. He will be eligible to play according to NCAA rules. As a Stanford fan, I’m disappointed he won’t be back, but as a fan of Aaron Bright, I wish him well and hope for the best.