Injury mars season-opening victory by Roadrunners
UTSA was well on its way to a season-opening 92-59 victory over East Central on Sunday at the Convocation Center when it happened.
Adrian Rodriguez, one of coach Steve Henson’s three prized freshman recruits, went down hard on a drive to the basket, injuring his left knee with 14:38 to go in the game.
“It kind of took my breath away for a minute,” Henson said.
The second-year coach hopes it’s nothing more than that. What a way to start the season.
Rodriguez, a 6-6 forward, was helped off the floor and later reappeared on the bench wearing an ice wrap.
Henson will be holding his breath until he gets word on the condition of Rodriguez, who spent the offseason rehabbing an earlier knee injury.
“He had been playing so well (during workouts and exhibition games),” Henson said of the Tulsa, Oklahoma, product. “He’s such a good passer out of the post, an element we didn’t have last year. He’s way more mature than most freshmen.”
The injury marred what was a solid season-opening performance by the Roadrunners.
Led by another freshman, Keaton Wallace, UTSA jumped to a 45-26 halftime lead and cruised to a 33-point victory in front of 661 fans.
Wallace, a 6-3 southpaw guard from Dallas, drilled 6 of 13 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 22 points.
“My teammates were getting me open looks and we were just executing,” said Wallace, who averaged 22.2 points a game as a senior at Richardson High School.
The third freshman in Henson’s 2017 recruiting class, Jhivvan Jackson, recovered from a slow start to chip in 14 points, including 3 of 4 threes.
Sophomore George Willborn III came off the bench to score 14 and grab seven rebounds.
Another sophomore, Byron Frohnen, added 10 points. Rodriguez wound up with 10 points and eight rebounds in 14 minutes off the bench.
Da’Rion King led East Central (0-1), a Division II opponent from Ada, Oklahoma, with 15 points.
UTSA made 11 threes on 31 attempts. The Roadrunners were 345th out of 347 Division I teams a year ago in 3-point field goal percentage.
Henson expects better shooting all around as the Roadrunners look to improve on last season’s 14-19 record.
“We have quite a few guys who can knock down 3s,” Henson said.
The Roadrunners broke the game open with a 13-2 run early in the first half. They jumped on the Tigers with a 15-3 run to open the third quarter.
“The first half was kind of a grind,” Henson said. “We fouled way too much early. I really liked the way we started the second half. We didn’t let them get their head up. There were a lot of positives.”
Rodriguez’s injury was not one of them.
“Guys work like crazy to get back (from injury),” Henson said. “He was getting better every day.”
The Roadrunners are back in action Wednesday at Texas State.
“We have one day, Tuesday, to prepare,” Henson said of the game against coach Danny Kaspar and the Bobcats. “Our new guys have no idea what Texas State can do with their motion (offense) and their toughness. We’ll have to be dialed in. They’re a well-coached team that plays well on both ends of the court.”