Terps center Michal Cekovsky will miss rest of season after fracturing ankle

Late-season injuries often impact the outcome of seasons for college basketball teams, and No. 24 Maryland will now be dealing with one of its own.

A day after junior center Michal Cekovsky appeared to roll his left ankle late in a 71-60 loss at Wisconsin, the team announced that the 7-1 Slovakian had fractured it and will miss the remainder of the season.


The injury, the latest for Cekovsky in a season when he was in and out of the lineup dating back to preseason practice, leaves the Terps with only one true center: 6-11 senior Damonte Dodd.

With four regular-season games left before the Big Ten tournament, Maryland (22-5, 10-4) plays Minnesota on Wednesday at Xfinity Center. The Terps are in third place, a game behind Wisconsin and Purdue. The Gophers have won five straight.


The injury comes at a time when Cekovsky finally seemed to be establishing a consistent role after playing sparingly his first two years. Cekovsky was averaging a career-high 7.6 points and shooting a team-best 67.1 percent from the field.

"I feel badly for Ceko as he has endured a number of injuries throughout the season," Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said in a statement. "It felt like he was really starting to turn the corner and his best basketball was ahead of him. We anticipate a full recovery for next season and we will be there to support him through the rehabilitation process."

Before sustaining the injury, which appeared to occur when he tripped over the foot of a Wisconsin player as he drove in the lane with a little over four minutes left, Cekovsky had scored 10 points in 18 minutes against the then-No. 11 Badgers and had played good defense against redshirt sophomore Ethan Happ.

Cekovsky left the Kohl Center in a walking boot and using crutches. The injury is to the same ankle that had caused him to miss more than a month earlier in the season. The two injuries were not related, a team spokesman said Monday.

Despite missing the entire preseason and the first four games after injuring his hamstring in late summer, Cekovsky scored in double figures in six of his first nine games back, including getting a career-high 16 points twice.

Then, after coming out of the team's win over Charlotte in Baltimore in late December complaining that his left foot hurt, Cekovsky sat out the first six games of the Big Ten schedule. After missing his first five shots in the first two games back, Cekovsky hit 15 of his last 18 shots.

While still falling victim to foul trouble on occasion, Cekovsky had also improved defensively, as evidenced by the six blocked shots he had in a 73-72 loss to Purdue on Feb. 4 in College Park when he was matched up against both Big Ten player of the year favorite Caleb Swanigan and 7-2, 290-pound Isaac Haas.

Without Cekovsky, who was playing 13.2 minutes a game behind the foul-prone Dodd, the Terps will have to rely on 6-9 redshirt sophomore Ivan Bender and 6-8 senior L.G. Gill as the first big men off the bench. Turgeon said recently that he didn't think he would burn a potential redshirt by using 6-10 freshman Joshua Tomaic.


How much Maryland will miss Cekovsky depends on which Cekovsky is being judged: the one who scored a career-high 16 points and eight rebounds to help the Terps beat Kansas State in Brooklyn, N.Y., earlier this year or the one who had four fouls in two minutes last week at Northwestern.

College basketball analyst Dan Bonner, who has seen Maryland play in person several times this season, understands the loss of Cekovsky could hurt the team's depth at center, but doesn't think it warrants enough for fans to fret about the injury ruining what has been a remarkable season for the Terps.

"I'm not sure Ceko's injury will have any significant impact on the Terps," Bonner wrote in a text Monday. "To be truthful, Ceko has been a promise of potential performance rather than someone who exerted a real impact. … I don't think the injury is a game-changer."

But former Terp star and college basketball analyst Len Elmore, who played late in his junior year after breaking a broken bone in his foot, said that Cekovsky's ability to run the court could alter the way Turgeon's team plays offensively.

"Ceko's a little more mobile [than Dodd]," Elmore said in a telephone interview. "That mobility shows up and changes the look of their attack and now without him, they lost a dimension that served them well. … That puts a lot of pressure on opponents and now they don't have that."