Stephanie Storm

KENT: Basketball season is over at Kent State, but news this week regarding the health of senior forward Justin Greene during the final month of the season helps to explain its disappointing ending in the Mid-American Conference Tournament semifinals and CollegeInsider.com Tournament.

The 6-foot-8 Greene not only had a sprained right ankle that limited him, but X-rays taken this week also revealed a stress fracture in his left shin.

“It’s been killing me, so our trainer said it was time to get it X-rayed just to be on the safe side,” said Greene, who despite the injury limitations went on to be named a first-team All-District 14 selection by the National Association of Basketball Coaches. “I think it was the opposite side of my ankle because I was trying so hard to stay off the ankle, I was putting all my pressure on my left leg.”

When Greene, a Brooklyn native, began experiencing pain in his shin, he just assumed it was a return of the shin splints he suffered through his junior year.

“But about a month and a half ago it started hurting more this time,” Greene said. “So I was like, ‘man, there must be something really wrong. We better get this checked out.’?”

That goes a long way in explaining why Green’s statistics dipped from 15.4 points and 8.3 rebounds as a junior to 14.0 and 6.8 as a senior. But his personal achievements weren’t as important as trying to will the Flashes to a run in the postseason.

“Not many guys would have played in the shape he was in,” KSU coach Rob Senderoff said. “But Justin Greene did.”

Greene’s health problems began to take a turn for the worse when he aggravated a right ankle injury during a victory over Buffalo on Feb. 14. Greene said he was so sore after the game, he had to cancel plans to take his girlfriend out for Valentine’s Day evening.

Greene was already sporting a walking boot for protection when he got home that night. He missed the next couple of team practices and sat out the Golden Flashes’ Bracket Buster loss to the College of Charleston four days later in an effort to rest the injury as much as he could.

But with important league games remaining at the end of the regular season, Greene chose to continue playing on the ankle, unwittingly putting added stress on the opposite shin.

That’s why it was such a disappointment when a 78-74 loss to rival Akron knocked the Flashes out of the MAC Tournament and a 73-58 dud at USC Upstate in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament ended Greene’s collegiate career on the wrong note.

Ever an optimist, Greene is focusing on getting healthy so there will still be plenty of basketball to be played upon graduation.

“I’m down to choosing between two agents and then will start exploring whether there’s a chance I can make the NBA or play overseas,” he said. “But first, I have to finally get healthy.”

Stephanie Storm can be reached at sstorm@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the Flashes blog at https://ohio.com/blogs/kent-state.