What was the first thing that Tennessee basketball point guard Zaiki Zeigler thought about after suffering a season-ending knee injury in Tuesday’s game against Arkansas? He wanted to apologize to his teammates.
“Honestly, the first thing that went to my mind was that I’m sorry for my teammates,” Ziegler told the ESPN broadcast team during Saturday’s game against Auburn. “I don’t want you guys to ever think that I would ever give up on you and just to know that I will always have their backs no matter what, whether I’m on the court or off the court.”
It was determined Wednesday that the sophomore suffered a torn ACL in his left knee.
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“I know I can’t get what happened back, I can’t go back in time and do it over again. I can never get that time back, all I know is that me bringing bad spirits to the team is just going to hurt them,” Ziegler said. “Me just helping everybody and picking us up, no matter what the situation is, is going to help us in the long run.
Zeigler believes his new vantage point from the bench will help him see things from the coach’s point of view when he returns next season.
“It’s definitely different for me because never in my entire career, high school, middle school I have never sat out, I had a broken wrist and I still played,” Zeigler said. “Just seeing it from this standpoint is really different for me, kind of like seeing it from the coach’s standpoint, so honestly I can see a lot more when Coach (Rick) Barnes gets on us about certain things I can see it from this standpoint now but I feel like this helping me to become a better player on the court.”
Zeigler had been averaging 10.7 points and an SEC best 5.4 assists, while only playing 28.7 minutes a game.