When Ryan Luther went down with a stress fracture in his foot, the initial prognosis seemed to be that he would be absent for a few weeks. With that stretching to four as of today, fans are no doubt getting a little antsy. That's especially true given the eight-game free fall the team just ended with a win against Boston College this week.
But if you're looking for Luther to be back anytime soon, you probably want to hold off on that.
Per the Trib's Jerry DiPaola, Pitt is still at least a few games away from having him back. The hope was that he could play by next Tuesday when the Panthers face Virginia Tech, but that doesn't seem to be happening:
Stallings said Ryan Luther (stress fracture in foot) won't return for Hokies Tuesday. Bone not healing as expected. Maybe 2 more weeks.— Jerry DiPaola (@JDiPaola_Trib) February 10, 2017
At this point, I'm a little non-plussed by Luther's injury. Barring something crazy like winning six of their last seven games, Pitt isn't going to the NCAA Tournament. And the idea that they need to get into the NIT to help make the season less miserable isn't something I'm all that enthusiastic about, anyway.
Luther will be back next year, so from a developmental standpoint, you want to get him out there, I guess. But as a junior with almost three years under his belt, I'm not sure he has that much more growing to do, anyway. His talent level is basically where it is and while some players see a spike from the junior to senior year (i.e. see Lamar Patterson), missing time right now isn't going to keep him from getting better next year, anyway.
Plus, if you really think about it, perhaps the minutes he would be getting are better spent by giving younger guys like Justice Kithcart more of an opportunity to grow.
There's little doubt that the Luther injury has hurt the team. But at this point in the year, a rushed return just doesn't make much sense given that the Panthers aren't likely competing for the NCAAs.