Justin Moore injury gives Bryan Antoine big chance

For three years, Bryan Antoine has waited for this second. There have been accidents. There have been struggles. There have been extra skilled gamers in entrance of him. 

Saturday night time in New Orleans, that may all change. The Final Four might be the Tinton Falls, N.J., native’s long-awaited chance to show himself on the most important stage of all following the season-ending torn proper Achilles injury to star guard Justin Moore in Saturday’s South Regional closing. 

“I’d say I’m pretty confident,” Antoine instructed The Post. “I’ve had the same mindset from Day 1. It hasn’t really changed for me. … Obviously with the injuries I have been set back, but I’m still the same player from high school.” 

The 6-foot-5 junior wing arrived at Villanova with sky-high expectations. He was a five-star, top-20 recruit at The Ranney School, a participant some thought had one-and-done, lottery-pick potential. He was a McDonald’s All-American who, together with teammate Scottie Lewis, led Ranney to the New Jersey Tournament of Champions in 2019. Antoine had his decide of colleges, and selected Villanova over Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and Florida, amongst different elite packages. 

But he has appeared in solely 45 video games for Villanova over three years. He underwent proper shoulder surgical procedure to restore a torn labrum the May earlier than his freshman season, a serious setback. That identical shoulder sidelined him for November and December of his sophomore year, and a knee injury value him the beginning of this season; Antoine didn’t make his debut till Dec. 17. 

“They’ve all been incredibly debilitating,” Villanova coach Jay Wright stated. 

Villanova's Bryan Antoine dunks the ball during the second half of a college basketball game against Delaware in the first round of the NCAA tournament in Pittsburgh, Friday, March 18, 2022.
Villanova’s Bryan Antoine dunks the ball.

He has logged solely 19 minutes in 4 NCAA Tournament video games, and didn’t get off the bench within the Elite Eight towards Houston. Antoine is averaging simply 1.4 factors and 1.2 rebounds in 9.5 minutes this season. But Moore’s injury signifies that will possible change. The Wildcats weren’t deep to start with, and Wright thinks a chance can be there for Antoine. 

Nobody expects Antoine to carry out like Moore, an All-Big East first-team choice who averaged 14.8 factors and 4.8 rebounds per sport. The 6-4 Moore is a terrific defender and high-level shotmaker in his third season as a major contributor. The Wildcats must tweak their offensive sport plan with out him, in accordance with Wright. They can have had every week to make changes by the point they face Kansas on Saturday, and there’s a gifted substitute in Antoine who has been patiently ready for his time. 

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“He has learned a great deal and I think he’s ready to step in,” Wright stated. 

Antoine used that verb — realized — a number of instances when discussing his time at Villanova. He realized about persistence and coping with adversity, he realized what it takes to win by watching his teammates do the little issues so typically over the past three years. He matured, on the court docket and off of it. He credited his teammates, coaches and fogeys with conserving his spirits up. He talked with Wright ceaselessly by the robust instances, the legendary coach raving about his perspective and psychological toughness. 

“He’s been huge in the past three years for me,” Antoine stated. 

Now he’s keen to use all the teachings he’s realized and carry out on the big stage. Antoine received’t deal with this sport any in another way. He doesn’t really feel like he has something to show. 

“It’s not a thing that needs to be talked about,” he stated. “We all know what occurred. Now we have to step up. 

“I love playing basketball. So no matter if it’s for a minute, two minutes, I’m just happy to do it.” 

Odds are, Antoine will get a authentic shot Saturday night time to assist Villanova attain the nationwide championship sport. To play significant minutes and contribute. After all of the accidents, the frustration of watching as a substitute of taking part in, this might be his alternative to shine.

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