Nagging hip injury affecting Phil Greene's play

USA TODAY Sports

Greene's minutes are up from a year ago despite a season-long injury.

St. John's struggled against the Georgetown Hoyas, and the team is searching for consistent scorers to play alongside D`Angelo Harrison. One candidate who shone early in the season, St. John's sophomore guard Phil Greene IV, has struggled of late.

But Greene has been dealing with a lingering injury since the preseason.

Head coach Steve Lavin has given Greene the opportunity to play in each of the Red Storm's 16 games this season, despite an injury to the guard's hip that was evident as early as September.

The injury reportedly pertains to Greene's acetabular labrum, a ring of cartilage that surrounds and protects the hip joint. Occurring more often to the labral tissue in the shoulder, a tear is exceptionally painful and makes it difficult to perform athletically. It is believed that Greene's hip labrum is torn to some extent.

To this point, St. John's has elected to hold off on formally announcing Greene's injury because he continues to suit up and play. Greene has averaged just over 31 minutes per game in 2012-13, slightly more than he played a season ago on a team seriously plagued by depth.

Early in the season, Greene made many forget about his hip issue. He scored in double figures in 6 of the Johnnies' first 7 games, including a 24 point, 7 assist outburst against Baylor in mid-November.

But, lately, Greene's performance has lagged significantly. He has reached that double-figure plateau just once since St. John's win over South Carolina on November 29th (9 games), including being held scoreless twice.

Greene's statistics haven't suffered drastically in comparison to the numbers he accumulated as a freshman, but it's clear that the injury has affected him all year long. His lateral movement, though never on an elite level, has seemed compromised. Though Greene's efficiency from the field is slightly up, he is shooting nearly 13% lower from the free throw line.

One of the games that Greene was held scoreless was Saturday against Georgetown, when he went 0-4 from the field in just 16 minutes. In fact, Lavin chose to play Greene for only three minutes during the second half of the Red Storm's tough loss to the Hoyas - presumably to rest the sophomore and his ailing hip.

If Greene is in fact wearing down as the St. John's season moves into mid-January, where do they turn for an offensive facilitator? Luckily for Lavin and company, they have a worthy alternative option in Jamal Branch, who joined the team three weeks ago.

Branch has impressed in the four games he has played with St. John's, though he missed a game after getting poked in the eye in practice. As Greene sat during garbage time against Georgetown, Branch was busy scoring 16 points on 7-11 shooting in 29 minutes.

As St. John's fought down to the wire with both Villanova and Rutgers, Lavin elected to go with the more-trusted sophomore Greene down the stretch. Though the losses shouldn't be directly pinned on Greene's play, the Red Storm did struggle to run fluid offensive sets in the waning minutes - unable to get D`Angelo Harrison and JaKarr Sampson the necessary clean looks.

Phil Greene, a kid from Chicago who is no stranger to hard-nosed basketball, is tough as nails. His valiant effort to play through a painful hip injury shows the attitude that was instilled in him during his upbringing.

As of now, Greene will play through the injury. It will be interesting to see if Lavin decides to shelve his guard - or adjust his minutes - at any point before the end of the season.

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