After being being examined by a spine specialist on Thursday, No. 9 Butler senior guard Rotnei Clarke received the news that he, the program and its fans were all hoping for. Clarke has been cleared for full contact in practice, which opens the door for his playing in Saturday’s tilt against Temple.
Clarke hasn’t played since suffering a neck injury in the first half of Butler’s win at Dayton on January 12. Clarke was fouled hard while attempting a layup, the force of which sent him crashing into the basket stanchion.
The Bulldogs have won two of the three games they’ve played in Clarke’s absence, most recently losing 54-53 at La Salle on Wednesday night. Ramon Galloway’s driving basket with 2.5 seconds remaining proved to be the difference in Philadelphia.
“Rotnei saw a spine specialist again this morning and everything looks stable and he has no symptoms, so he was cleared for full contact,” said Butler Head Athletic Trainer Ryan Galloy in the statement released by the school.
“We will evaluate him again tomorrow (Friday) and then make a decision about Saturday.”
It’s important to note that Clarke has only been cleared for practice at this point, with a positive report on Friday needed to get Butler’s leading scorer on the floor for their home game against Temple.
In spite of the Owls’ win over Big 5 rival Penn on Wednesday night this is a big game for Temple, who has lost three of their last five games. In Khalif Wyatt the Owls have one of the Atlantic 10’s best players, and when he’s on Temple can beat just about any team in the country (see his 33-point afternoon in Temple’s win over then-No. 3 Syracuse last month).
If Clarke is able to play on Saturday evening Butler becomes an even tougher team to beat at Hinkle Fieldhouse.