Auburn teammates are rallying around the injured Tahj Shamsid-Deen
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — This injury really hurts, not because Auburn has lost its point guard and best defender, but because the Tigers are without a team leader who has battled through one shoulder injury after another, only to suffer more of the same.
Auburn will play at Coastal Carolina on 6 p.m. Wednesday without Tahj Shamsid-Deen, all the while hoping he can bounce back, again, from an injury similar to a temporary dislocation of the shoulder, one of many he's had the last two seasons mixed in with surgery on both shoulders.
"I would imagine, physiologically, he's got to be in a really bad place," said coach Bruce Pearl on Tuesday.
He won't be left behind when Pearl takes his Tigers to play former Auburn coach Cliff Ellis at Coastal.
"There wasn't an ounce of hesitation from me whether or not he's going to make this trip: He has to make this trip because on the road, first game, he has to be there for his teammates," Pearl said. "His focus is getting the team ready. His focus is helping us from the bench."
Fellow guard TJ Lang says Shamsid-Deen's presence "means everything."
"We don't want it to seem like he got hurt and we're going to leave him behind. He's still a pivotal part of our team. He's going to be on the bench, cheering us on, giving us pointers. Even though he's not on the court making an impact, he'll be on the bench helping us," Lang said.
Pearl said he hoped Shamsid-Deen would be back in a couple of weeks. Going forward, he said, "it's a challenge, a real challenge."
Lang said the latest injury news is "awful."
"It's like every time it happens a part of us dies. He's the hardest worker we have on our team. We never want to see that happen. When it happened the last game, we got together in the huddle and decided we were going to win that game, we were going to play together for Tahj.
"We have lifting conditioning, and he wants to be the first one out there. He never complains about anything. Seeing him go down like that is tough."
"The main thing is we just want him to know we're there for him. We're still a family waiting on him to come back."
Shamsid-Deen's latest injury came in Auburn's last game Friday. He suffered a similar injury in an exhibition game. His troublesome shoulders cut his year short last season and ultimately had surgery.
Now, it's more rehab and a new shoulder brace.
"He had rehabbed so hard, so well and for his shoulder to come out twice and have them to be two different kinds of separations has to be discouraging," Pearl said. "Fortunately, the shoulder didn't stay out but a moment. But when you're out there as player, you just don't know what your limitations are. It's hard when you lose your point guard, it's hard when you lose your quarterback."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine