Sac State basketball captain out for season after surgery

Sacramento+State+senior+guard+Marcus+Graves+drives+in+for+a+layup+against+Idaho+State+Feb.+11+at+the+Nest.++Graves+will+miss+the+entire+2017-18+season+after+having+back+surgery+on+his+herniated+disc.+
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Sac State basketball captain out for season after surgery

Sacramento State senior guard Marcus Graves drives in for a layup against Idaho State Feb. 11 at the Nest.  Graves will miss the entire 2017-18 season after having back surgery on his herniated disc.

Sacramento State senior guard Marcus Graves drives in for a layup against Idaho State Feb. 11 at the Nest. Graves will miss the entire 2017-18 season after having back surgery on his herniated disc.

Michael Zhang - The State Hornet

Sacramento State senior guard Marcus Graves drives in for a layup against Idaho State Feb. 11 at the Nest. Graves will miss the entire 2017-18 season after having back surgery on his herniated disc.

Michael Zhang - The State Hornet

Michael Zhang - The State Hornet

Sacramento State senior guard Marcus Graves drives in for a layup against Idaho State Feb. 11 at the Nest. Graves will miss the entire 2017-18 season after having back surgery on his herniated disc.

Three months ago, Sacramento State senior guard Marcus Graves felt some pain in his back but dismissed it thinking he was “being a baby” — now he’s recovering from back surgery.

Graves, who had successful surgery last month, suffered a herniated disc that will require him to miss the entire 2017-18 basketball season.

“(The pain) started to go down my leg and I was getting some numbness down there,” Graves said. “I knew something was wrong, (so) I had an MRI and they told me it was a herniated disc. The first couple of months I was trying to rehab it to see if I could get it healthy, but it kind of just kept getting worse so I had to get surgery.”

Doctors told Graves — who had started 62 consecutive games dating back to 2015 — that he’ll be able to resume basketball activities again in late January which means he’d miss at least 21 out of the 31 games played this season. Instead, the Hornets’ co-captain will sit out the season and be fully utilized next year, Sac State coach Brian Katz said.

“I told Marcus, ‘well, you know, this means that we’ll have an all-league player next year,’ ” Katz said. “(We) feel like he would’ve been an all-league player this year — (so) we’re certainly disappointed that we don’t have him this year — but the bright side is that it happened before the season, so your team can adapt and adjust.”

The Hornets will have to adapt quickly and find a way to replace Graves’ production after he averaged 13.9 points and 5.3 assists per game last season. Graves also finished 15th in the Big Sky Conference in scoring and his assists total was ranked 34th in the country.

Sac State will rely on senior guard Jiday Ugbaja, who averaged 2.5 points per contest in 24 games played last year, and sophomore guard Izayah Mauriohooho-Le’afa, who started in 28 out of 29 games as a true freshman last season.

However, the Hornets will rely mostly on second-team all Big Sky honoree and senior forward Justin Strings. The 6-foot-7 co-captain led the team with 15.9 points per game last year and will most likely have opposing defenses keen on stopping him, Graves said.

“In my eyes, he’s been the best player in the Big Sky,” Graves said, referring to Strings. “I’ve seen it since the day I got here when we were freshmen, how good of a player he can be with just how versatile he is (and) he’s got to lead the guys because it’s going to be a lot on him, but we’ve got other people who are going to take the load off him.

“At the end of the day, he’s going to have to lead the team first and he knows that and I think he’s ready for that.”

Second in line to lead this team will be Graves as he’s made it a point of emphasis to attend every practice and to coach up his teammates on the sidelines.

“It’s tough just coming here every day and to see all the guys because I want to be out there with them,” Graves said. “It’s tough to watch practice, (but) I had to evaluate and realize it’s not really about me. I’ve got to be here for my guys, so that is where my head has been lately.”

Sac State will tip off its exhibition season without Graves against UC Santa Cruz at 7:35 p.m. Nov. 3 at the Nest.

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