After missing eight weeks following toe surgery, the senior believed he was better served to sit out the season and return next year completely healthy.
NEW YORK — Scott Suggs had hoped for a storybook start to his senior season.
After missing eight weeks due to right toe surgery, the Washington men’s basketball co-captain targeted Saturday’s nationally televised game against No. 7 Duke at famed Madison Square Garden to make his long-awaited season debut.
“Playing my first game against Duke and beating them, you can’t ask for a better start than that,” Suggs said last week. “Who wouldn’t take that? But it’s all on what the doctors say. They control everything.”
Ultimately, the 6-foot-6 guard — who had been cleared to play and practiced the past two days — had the final say. But rather than return, he decided to redshirt.
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“I felt like with the rehab process it might go a little quicker,” Suggs said in a statement released by the school. “My original goal was to play this week in NY. As it got closer, it felt like this was the best decision.”
Given the games missed and the amount of time it would have taken him to return to basketball shape, Suggs believed he was better served to sit out the season and return next year completely healthy.
“Another year to get better and being able to play a full season” were the benefits to redshirting, he said. “Just trying to get the most out of my last year.”
Suggs had surgery Oct. 14, during which team doctor Christopher Wahl inserted a pin in his right foot to repair the fifth metatarsal. At that time, it was believed Suggs would need two months to recover.
Friday marked exactly eight weeks since the surgery. Suggs approached coach Lorenzo Romar in the morning about redshirting, and they agreed on the decision.
“This wasn’t something that I came to him with and said, ‘Hey, you need to think about this,’ ” Romar said. “I was surprised that he would (redshirt) because I know he had just talked totally about coming back and playing, and he wanted to know how soon he could come back.
“If he would have been able to come back sooner, like say Nevada (on Dec. 2) … he probably would have gone on and played.”
Suggs’ decision feels like another loss for a UW team already reeling from a pair of last-second defeats against Nevada and No. 11 Marquette.
Suggs, who made 45 percent of his three-point attempts last season, would have given Washington another sharpshooter to combat an explosive Duke team.
Romar has no choice but to continue and lean heavily on his quartet of guards — Abdul Gaddy, Terrence Ross, C.J. Wilcox and Tony Wroten Jr. — which includes three underclassmen.
“Those guys are just going to continue to grow the more they play,” Romar said. “It kind of changes the dynamic of our team. Scott was going to bring a general know-how and experience, but these guys now are getting experience under their belt as well.”
Like Washington (4-3), Duke (8-1) has lost its top three scorers from last season. That forced coach Mike Krzyzewski to restructure the team into a three-guard lineup featuring freshman Austin Rivers and juniors Seth Curry and Andre Dawkins.
Duke also has talent in the post in junior forward Mason Plumlee, who has four double-doubles this season.
“They have a lot of things to worry about,” Romar said. “Their ability to shoot three-pointers helps them big time. They’re shooting 50 percent overall and about 42 percent from the three-point line.
“If they get going, they can really destroy teams. We have to find a away to not allow them to go crazy on the three-point line.”
The Huskies are in desperate need of a signature win and their first win away from home.
“It’s a big game,” Romar said. “No doubt. The entire nation is watching. You’re playing against one of the top programs in the history of college basketball and they are very good.
“They have a Hall-of-Fame coach leading their team. It’s being played at Madison Square Garden. The profile of the game is definitely big.”
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @percyallen.