When Trent Wiedeman rolled his ankle late in the second half against Auburn, the College of Charleston forward thought his season was over almost before it had even begun.

Furman vs. College of Charleston

Furman vs. College of Charleston WHEN: 5 p.m. WHERE: TD Arena TV: WMMP RADIO: WTMZ 910-AM RECORDS: College of Charleston 9-4, 1-0 in SoCon; Furman 3-9, 0-1. NOTES: College of Charleston junior forward Trent Wiedeman is expected to play tonight against the Paladins. Wiedeman, who has had two separate ankle injuries, has missed nine games. The Cougars are 7-2 in Wiedeman’s absence. ... Furman leads the overall series, 41-38, ... Furman ended a nine-game, four-year losing skid in the series with a 69-63 victory on the Cougars home court last season. ... The Cougars lead the SoCon in shooting, hitting at a 44.8 percent clip from the floor and leads the league in 3-point shooting at 39.2 percent. ... Cougars C/F Adjehi Baru leads the SoCon in rebounding, averaging 9.0 a game, while G Anthony Stitt is the top 3-point shooter (46.8 percent) in the SoCon.

Maybe that’s why Wiedeman’s return to the Cougars’ lineup tonight against Furman, after missing nine games with two separate ankle injuries, will be so gratifying for the Suwanee, Ga., native.

The Cougars (9-4, 1-0 SoCon) take on Furman (3-9, 0-1) in the Cougars’ Southern Conference home opener at TD Arena at 5 p.m.

Just three games into the season, Wiedeman wondered if he’d ever be able to get back on the floor before the year was out. He had felt that kind of pain before when he was a freshman and tore two ligaments in his right ankle and was forced to have surgery.

He was almost certain that would be his fate again.

“Initially I thought ‘Here we go again. I’m going to have to have surgery,’ ” said the 6-8 Wiedeman, a preseason All-Southern Conference pick. “At first, the doctors thought it was bad too, but after the swelling went down we kind of realized that it wasn’t as bad as we’d first thought.”

Team officials said Wiedeman had “sprained” his ankle and would be out indefinitely. Rumors swirled around the team that Wiedeman’s injury was much more severe than anyone was saying and there was a legitimate chance he could miss the entire season.

As it turned out, Wiedeman had only stretched the ligaments. His ankle turned black and blue and swelled to the size of a grapefruit, but it could have been worse. It was nothing that a little rest and rehabilitation couldn’t cure.

“The toughest part was not being able to practice,” Wiedeman said. “I’d have to sit on the sidelines and watch everyone else go to work and knowing there was nothing I could do.”

It took more than a month, but Wiedeman returned to the TD Arena floor after a six-game absence against Old Dominion. He lasted 18 minutes against the Monarchs before injuring his left ankle.

The one bright spot? “At least it wasn’t my right ankle again,” Wiedeman joked after the game.

The injury against Old Dominion wasn’t nearly as serious as the one he’d suffered against Auburn, but he still missed two weeks and three games. The Cougars are 7-2 without Wiedeman in the lineup.

“At least we were winning,” Wiedeman said. “I think that’s the one consolation of this whole thing. If we were losing, it would have been pretty tough.”

Wiedeman’s injury could prove to be a blessing in disguise for the Cougars later in the season. Willis Hall, who is slated to start in place of Wiedeman tonight against the Paladins, has gotten extended minutes and sophomore Adjehi Baru has been able develop at a faster rate. That kind of depth should help Charleston as February stretches into March and the SoCon tournament.

“As long as we’re healthy and playing well at the end of the season, I think we can take some positives out of Trent’s absence,” said Charleston coach Doug Wojcik. “We’ve had other guys step up and get some valuable playing time. That’s only going to help us as the season goes on. Depth will be crucial when the tournament rolls around.”

Wojcik isn’t sure how much playing time Wiedeman will get against the Paladins. Wojcik is just happy to finally have a full lineup again.

“We’re going to ease him back into it,” Wojcik said. “He got 18 minutes against Old Dominion, but I’m not going to push him back into it.”