Megan Soisson | A plea for Tyler Bernardini
February 21, 2012, 10:05 pm · Updated February 23, 2012, 10:15 pm·
Here’s a message for Tyler Bernardini: When you step off the bus in Hanover, N.H., Friday afternoon, do so without the intent to play against Dartmouth. It may sound counterproductive, but some rest on Friday night might just be the best option for your team.
While the fifth-year senior went down hard Saturday night in the first half against Columbia and sat on the bench in a walking boot for the remainder of the game, his injury is not completely new. But it was not until Friday — after he did not start but opted to “tough it out” and come off the bench, according to coach Jerome Allen — that the coaching staff finally acknowledged Bernardini’s “health issues.”
Three weeks ago, Bernardini declined to comment on his injury. As he laced up his sneakers before practice the day after scoring 14 points in 25 minutes against Princeton (justly, his time was limited due to foul trouble), he did not want to speak on the record about the boot he had been wearing outside of the Palestra and Weightman Hall courts.
He had been seen around campus in a walking boot — that same boot in which he sat the bench Saturday — for the past several weeks, but has been very hush-hush on speaking with the media about his injury.
At the time, it was understandable why Bernardini didn’t want to publicize his injury. But anyone who follows Penn basketball should have noticed a drop-off in Bernardini’s play — in offense, defense and in minutes.
Looking at the numbers, there is a serious drop-off in production after Penn’s Big 5 victory over St. Joseph’s, where Bernardini scored 24 points and tallied five defensive rebounds.
Excluding the Duke game, in nine games between Dec. 7 against Delaware and Jan. 21 against St. Joe’s, Bernardini averaged 19.8 points and 4.6 defensive rebounds per game on just over 34 minutes.
Since St. Joseph’s, and in combination with the start of the Ivy season’s grueling back-to-back schedule, he’s averaged 8.3 points and 2.1 defensive rebounds on 25.7 minutes per game. His playing time has dropped, and his production, most notably defensively, has plummeted.
Saturday’s aggravation only hurts the cause.
When The Daily Pennsylvanian went to practice Monday afternoon, Bernardini was busy in Penn’s training room. After warming up, the team immediately went into a film session and The DP could not observe whether or not Bernardini participated in practice, and if so, to what extent. However, Penn Athletic Communications informed The DP that Bernardini was “day-to-day” and that his injury was “not season-ending.”
Though the Quakers were off from practice Tuesday (as they have been every Tuesday, at least since the Ivy season began), it is unlikely that he will participate much in Wednesday’s and Thursday’s practices. And that’s just fine.
Tyler Bernardini, take a few more days to rest. You need it. Don’t push it Friday when your team can crank out a win without fearing you will worsen the injury. Enjoy the Dartmouth game without feeling the pressure to push through the pain.
Rest one more day, and save the pain for Saturday.
MEGAN SOISSON is a junior health and societies major from Mechanicsburg, Pa., and is Senior Sports Editor of The Daily Pennsylvanian. She can be reached at Soisson@theDP.com.