Kansas basketball coach Bill Self says he’s not exactly sure how Udoka Azubuike incurred a season-ending wrist injury during a scrimmage at practice Tuesday in Lawrence.
“I just know that he had his hands … I think it (left hand) may have been on Dwight Coleby. They were just battling for post position and somehow or another his hand got hit while it was kind of bent in an awkward position on Dwight, at least that’s what ’Doke thinks. He hurt it then,” Self said before Thursday’s KU-UNLV game, during an interview aired on the Jayhawk Radio Network.
“He stopped and taped it, did that stuff, but it just kept bothering him the whole day. After practice, Bill (Cowgill, KU’s trainer) comes to me and he said, ‘You know what, we need to get this checked.’
“Doc (one of KU’s team doctors) came over. They did X-rays, and of course X-rays don’t show I guess ligament type damage. Doc said, ‘You know what, ‘It doesn’t look like it’s anything, but I don’t like the location. We need to check this out and do an MRI.’ (They) did an MRI that night and found out about 9 o’clock we had a problem. Then (they) did another MRI the next morning, different type of MRI to basically show exactly even more definitely what the situation is.”
The situation? Torn ligaments in Azubuike’s wrist that will keep him out of action several months.
“Obviously people can say, ‘Well, can’t you play with that?’ No you can’t. This is one of those deals that for his life moving forward it’s one of these things you fix because if not, if it’s delayed, then maybe it won’t heal back as properly or maybe arthritis sets in,” Self said.
“So there’s no decision to be made. It was probably best that it happened in a quick manner. He hurt it, found out about it the next day and surgery will be in a little while. Certainly disappointed for ’Doke because he tried so hard and our fans don’t see how much progress he’s making every day in practice.
“It’s obviously a blow to us. It’s a bigger blow to him than it is to us. We should always keep that in perspective. I feel bad for him because he’s tried so hard.”
As far as what it means for the players in the post and the rotation, Self said: “We’re getting smaller and smaller all the time. Mitch (Lightfoot) or Dwight have got to come through. We’ll play Landen (Lucas) and we’ll play … in the first half of games, I haven’t thought this all the way through, in the first half of games you may just see Landen and Carlton (Bragg) being our 5-man and trying to get to the half with those two being our 5-man.
“Then if they are not in foul trouble, second half you can play ’em together. But you can’t go out and get three fouls or two fouls on each one of ’em, like if Carlton was playing the 4 and Landen the 5 and he gets two fouls early, it totally hamstrings you.
“Now if Landen gets a couple early you’d rather play to your strengths, and our strengths would be the five perimeter players playing four spots as opposed to just playing three spots. It’ll be interesting. We won’t change how we play, but we will change our rotation,” Self added.
Of Azubuike’s frame of mind, assistant coach Kurtis Townsend said: “He woke up today and we got him to smile a couple times. The players showed him a lot of love. It’ll be good for him to go home (to host family in Florida for Christmas). He was really coming along and is such a good kid.”
Scooter’s back home
Scott “Scooter” Ward, Kansas’ associate athletic director for academic and career counseling who had surgery to repair a torn aorta on Oct. 7 and additional surgery on Nov. 13, was released from Kansas Transitional Care Center on Thursday.
Ward and his wife, Robin, arrived at home that afternoon, she told The Star. Scott Ward released this statement:
“We are beyond happy to say we are finally home, thanks to the outstanding care we received from the medical professionals at the University of Kansas Hospital, as well as the first responders in Lawrence and emergency medicine staff at Lawrence Memorial Hospital. We know that I was more than blessed to survive and recover from this, and that is because of all of you who have cared for us.
“To my co-workers Vince, Bobby, Tamra and Paul, thanks for your extra work with our student athletes in my absence. Coach Bill Self, coach Ray Bechard, their staffs and the teams have been overwhelmingly supportive in keeping me focused and my spirits up.
“Robin and I are deeply grateful to our Kansas family, and to our family and friends near and far, for your kind thoughts and prayers and tremendous help in every way imaginable … so much more than we know how to say. Life is precious. The way we look at it, every day is a bonus day. Use your time for good. Tell your people you love them. Happy Holidays to all! Rock Chalk, Jayhawk.”