BRIDGEWATER, Va. - Wednesday night marked a first for Bridgewater junior guard Ronnie Thomas.
For the first time in his life, Thomas watched a game from the bench in street clothes, his wrist in a cast, as his teammates battled to a 67-66 double-overtime victory over Washington and Lee.
Needless to say, it’s an experience he did not enjoy.
“Never missed a game in my life,” Thomas said after a film session Thursday afternoon. “Rec league, middle school, freshman team, high school and college - that was the first time.”
Thomas injured his right wrist around the 11-minute mark in the first half against Eastern Mennonite. The injury hindered his ability to shoot, but the rest of his game was unaffected.
“I had it taped at halftime of the EMU game and everything I did in the second half was going to the rim. I didn’t shoot anything from outside,” Thomas said. “My foul shots were really flat, but I got them up there.”
Thomas played a solid floor game at Emory & Henry with four rebounds, four assists and three steals, but took only three shots.
Following the game at Emory & Henry, Thomas said the wrist actually felt better. On Monday, he went for x-ray and the exam revealed a scaphoid fracture.
“The hardest part was finding out that I would have to sit,” Thomas admitted. “I thought I would be okay after that, but when the game started Wednesday against W&L, that was pretty tough.”
The first 16 minutes of the W&L game were extremely tough to watch as the Eagles scored just 12 points and trailed by 10.
“That’s was the most uninspired 16 minutes of basketball I have seen us play all year,” Thomas said. “There was no energy, no effort, no heart. I don’t know what was wrong, but it was hard to watch.”
Even though he couldn’t contribute on the floor, Thomas did his best to try and inspire his teammates in the locker room.
“I told them that someone had to take the lead,” he explained. “If just one guy takes the lead, the rest will follow.”
The Eagles tied the score early in the second half, but the Generals went on a 22-4 run that threatened to blow the Eagles completely out of Nininger Hall. “That was pretty bad,” Thomas admitted. “We left (Andrew) Franz all alone for two wide-open threes. That run looked a lot like the first half.”
Things changed for the better around the eight-minute mark. That’s when the Eagles finally found that person to lead the way against the Generals.
“It started with Kordero (Thompson),” Thomas said. “Kord’s an energy guy and he came in and battled J.D. Ey and kept him off the offensive boards. It’s like I told them at halftime, it just takes one guy to get it started. “Kord’s out there battling and all of a sudden Zach and Matt Hunter start getting up into W&L’s guards on defense and creating steals. Tavis (Stapleton) and Ed (Reddick) start playing with more energy. You could see it happening. It was contagious and Kord should get a lot of credit.”
For the next several games, Thomas will be relegated to watching and offering advice from the sidelines. “I will be more like a coach from the bench,” Thomas said. “Maybe I can see some things that they’re not seeing on the floor. I’m one of the leaders on the team and if I tell the guys something, I think they’ll listen. They trust me.”
Thomas will keep working out in practice, trying to stay in shape. He expects to return for the final regular season game when the Eagles host Guilford.
“I’ll do all the running in practice. I can work on using my left hand, work on my ball-handling. I should be back for Guilford and the ODAC tournament.”