Boston College coach Steve Donahue announced Friday that center Dennis Clifford will miss the rest of the season and seek a medical redshirt due to continuing knee issues.
Clifford missed BC’s first 14 games after having offseason procedures on both knees to attempt to alleviate pain associated with arthritis, returned to play in games against Clemson and Virginia Tech and then turned his ankle before the Eagles’ game against No. 2 Syracuse. He sat out that game and Donahue announced the decision Friday before BC’s game Saturday at North Carolina.
On Monday, the fourth-year head coach addressed the loss of the 7-foot-1, 250-pound big man and talked about what it means to the struggling Eagles.
“I don’t think there’s any thought on our end except that the poor kid just could barely walk after playing,” Donahue said on his ACC conference call. “That’s the problem. He just couldn’t bounce back. He gave it a shot. After we played Saturday at Virginia Tech, he was just not able to get the leg going for Monday. At that point it’s telling you, you probably shouldn’t be going. And I think that’s what set in his mind.”
Though the Bridgewater, Mass., native and Milton Academy product played in every game last season for BC, he was clearly hampered by his knee issues. And though the Eagles had hoped to get Clifford back after the offseason knee surgeries, they’ve been playing without him far more than with him this season.
But that doesn’t mean losing Clifford for the remainder of the season hurts any less.
“Obviously I think he anchors our defense, really protects the lane and the rim, and we don’t have that when he’s not there. There’s no doubt,” Donahue said. “That being said, I think our guys have done a very good job this year of understanding our weakness and that’s obviously rebounding, defensive rebounding in particular, and we’ve done a good job with that.”
The Eagles rank 325th nationally with 31.2 rebounds per game, and are the only ACC team with a negative rebounding margin -- getting outrebounded by an average of 1.8 boards a game to date in 2013-14.
Now that the decision has been made to seek a redshirt, Donahue said the focus will turn from getting Clifford back on the court immediately to working toward a return for 2014-15.
“The goal is to work hard as heck, starting right now, to do everything we can [to get him ready],” Donahue said. “It’s a chronic situation but there’s examples of guys that have come back from it and have done certain things. And I think Dennis is trying to learn that, so we can start working out hard and get him better and progress in terms of his skill and his development and then obviously his recovery from workouts is better by the time we start playing games next year.”
Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.