Northwestern guard JerShon Cobb has been ruled out for the season with what is believed to be a stress fracture in his right foot, Chris Collins announced Thursday.
Cobb is also dealing with pain in his knee, which, according to Collins, might require off-season arthroscopic surgery.
“He’s been dealing with the knee for the past month,” Collins said. “He could’ve played probably with that alone, but then he injured his foot against Ohio State.” Collins said the foot injury would not require surgery.
Cobb has struggled with injuries every year of his Northwestern career. He missed a combined 19 games during his freshman and sophomore seasons due to various hip, knee and leg issues. He then was forced to miss two games earlier this campaign with an ankle ailment.
Collins wouldn’t say the persistent injuries are worrying but did say Cobb had a big offseason ahead of him.
“He’s going to have to have a great offseason of strength and conditioning,” Collins said. “He had a really good year for us, I’m really proud of what he did, but it’s going to be important going into his senior year that he has a great summer, and that he gets his body to the point where he doesn’t break down.”
The loss is a critical one for Northwestern, which already struggles with depth. Collins will be left to work with eight scholarship players – nine if you include James Montgomery III – and ten players in total.
“I think we’ve got a bit worn down,” Collins said when asked about the lack of depth. “We tried to use the first few days of this week to get our legs back, and get refreshed. But there’s no question, when you don’t have the depth, when you don’t have the bodies in a league like this, it’s worn on us. It’s put a lot of pressure on our guys, because they’re playing heavy minutes."
As for replacing his second leading scorer, Collins noted Cobb’s versatility as an aspect of his game that will be particularly missed.
“He did a little bit of everything for us,” Collins said. “That allowed us to do some unique things on both ends. Defensively, it allowed us to be a little more aggressive with switching, but without him, we get a lot smaller. Offensively, we tried to use him in unique ways. We posted him up some. Him being a bigger guard, it allowed us to be more creative in some of the things we do.”
Cobb was not only NU’s primary ball handler throughout the Big Ten season, but also contributed with his scoring, rebounding, and defense. Cobb’s season will end with averages of 12.2 points per game, 4.8 rebounds per game, and 2.3 assists per game, all career bests.
“One guy is not just going to fill the bill,” Collins said. “I’m hoping now in these last few games, guys like Dave [Sobolewski], [Nathan] Taphorn, Kale [Abrahamson], they’ll have more of an opportunity to have the ball in there hands, do some things, and we’ll see what they can do.”
Collins said nothing is set in stone yet, but he’s leaning towards going with Dave Sobolewski and Tre Demps in the starting lineup going forward, as he did Saturday against Indiana.
The Wildcats, who now sit at 12-16 overall and 5-10 in the Big Ten with three games remaining, travel to Nebraska on Saturday, before ending the season with the home finale against Penn State and a March 9 trip to Purdue.