Monday, January 11, 2010

Ouch

Fresh off yesterday's Packers loss, word comes this morning that Jon Leuer has a broken wrist and will be out indefinitely. Great. Sources are saying he'll miss 4-6 weeks, or 7-10 games. Could be more, that's a finicky injury.

Let's be honest: this just about kills our Big Ten title chances. They were probably a long shot anyway. It was nice to daydream.

OK, enough of that, glass half-full time.

Health: We haven't had too many bad injuries in the past few years, have we? Brian Butch at the end of the 2007 season and Alando Tucker in 2004 come to mind immediately as two in-season injuries to key players that really hurt. Pop hurt his ankle before that memorable Texas game. Sharif Chambliss hurt his knee in offseason workouts. Krabby had a lower body injury. My point is, we've been fortunate in the injury category, and should be thankful for that.

Keaton Nankivil: You have to shoot more now, big guy. You have to! Now! You are a really good shooter, particularly when you're looking for your shot. You're not going to do the same moves Leuer does, like shooting off the dribble, but you are better taking a pass and shooting off a guard's dribble penetration. You will replace Leuer's perimeter game. (Of course, you will also have a better defensive player checking you now.) You're also very good hitting the offensive boards. Now is the time for you to become the double digit scorer you can be.

Mike Bruesewitz: We've been impressed with your athleticism and active game in limited minutes. You will replace Leuer's rebounding and some minutes. You'll also be called upon to take Nankivil's minutes when he gets in foul trouble. (In the locker room at hoops today someone remarked that Nankivil has become Greg Stiemsma for refs' tendency to call fouls on him the minute a play comes near him. This is also known as Dave Mader Syndrome. It's not fair, but it's true.)

Ryan Evans: We've been impressed with your knack for scoring. You will replace Leuer's low post game, and become the quick trigger guy in the frontcourt. We love your confidence, even if your shot isn't everything it could be and will be.

Jared Berggren: You are now the only guy on the roster over 6-8 who is capable of playing against Big Ten post players. You're going to need to play double digit minutes some nights, if only because Nankivil's going to get tired or in foul trouble.

Like most injuries to star players, there's no way one guy can replace Leuer. But I am really excited in seeing what these four kids can do with their opportunities. Additionally, you would expect the guards to assume even more of the scoring load, like in the Purdue win. They're capable.

We've won games recently with limited minutes and production from Leuer. We ought to be able to tread water without him, and emerge a deeper, more experienced team.

But I don't want the Badgers to tread too long -- get well soon, Jon!

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