Romeo Garcia’s return to the Navy lineup may be short-lived. Garcia aggravated his hamstring injury on a play two minutes into the second half of the Midshipmen’s win on Saturday.
“He went up to get that rebound,” Navy Coach Billy Lange said. “It looked like he was three feet above the rim. He came down and went to a dribble hand-off with Kaleo [Kina] on the left wing and the [Army defender] jammed him. [The defender] just tried to deny the dribble hand-off and hit [Garcia] in the leg.”
Garcia immediately left the game and did not return. It was another disappointing setback for the sophomore guard, who has missed 18 games this season because of hamstring injuries. After coming off the bench to play 18 minutes at Holy Cross on Wednesday – his first action since Dec. 22 – Garcia started against Army. He had three rebounds, a steal and a block in 16 minutes. Now his balky hamstring may keep him out the rest of the season.
“Look, we’ve played a lot of games without him,” Lange said. “But, as I told somebody the other day, you ever see [the movie] ‘Jerry Maguire’? He walks in at the end, and Tom Cruise tells Renee Zellweger, ‘You complete me.’ That’s what he is. He’s that guy. He completes us.
“To do what these kids have done without what I think is the best defensive player in the league is an amazing testament to our guys. He just takes it to another level. He’s a winner. He’s tough. He’s a leader. Our guys respond to him. . . . [When] he’s on the floor, our help-side defense is better. We communicate better. We set better screens. The ball moves more. I hope for our team he can come back, but right now the priority is to make sure that he’s okay. I feel so bad. I do.”
According to Lange, Navy’s trainer said Garcia could be ready to play on Wednesday against Patriot League leader American.
“But you know what? The kid has got to be confident,” Lange said. “If he’s not confident, then he can’t play.”
February 23, 2009; 5:58 AM ET
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