Syracuse v Marquette

Quadriceps issue leads to slower recovery than Steve Taylor Jr. hoped for

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When it was announced in early May that Marquette rising sophomore forward Steve Taylor Jr. had undergone a surgical procedure to remove a benign growth from his right knee, the expectation from the school was that his recovery would take anywhere from three to four months.

Of course most athletes hope to recover at a rate that allows them to return to the court ahead of time, and that was no different for Taylor. But according to Andrei Greska of Paint Touches, Taylor’s quest to return to full strength hit a bump in the road due to atrophy of his right quadriceps muscle.

According to Greska the hope now for Taylor is to be back at full strength by August 25, which is when the team is due back on campus for the start of the fall semester.

“I’ve been lifting with the team (on upper body) every time we lift,” the Chicago native said. “I’ve been doing some lower body work like squats and stuff like that, but I don’t squat as heavy as the team.”

For now, Taylor will continue his rehab process in hopes of being back to full strength by the time Marquette begins its school year, within the 3-4 month time frame given back in May.

“I’m hoping to be back to full strength when we come back to school on August 25th,” he said. ”Hopefully I’m cleared to do full practices by then.”

The Simeon HS product didn’t see a great amount of playing time as a freshman, averaging just 8.6 minutes per game (3.0 ppg, 2.1 rpg), but one area in which he took full advantage of his minutes was on the offensive glass.

Marquette’s biggest personnel losses came on the perimeter, with point guard Junior Cadougan graduating and Vander Blue leaving school a year early to enter the 2013 NBA Draft.

With the returns of centers Davante Gardner and Chris Otule and forward Jamil Wilson, as well as the arrival of highly touted junior college transfer Jameel McKay, one of the nation’s best offensive rebounding teams in 2012-13 (18th in offensive rebounding percentage) could be even better in 2013-14.

How much of a factor could Taylor potentially be for Marquette, which will be one of the early favorites in the Big East? That will depend upon whether or not he’s back to full strength when classes begin. If so, head coach Buzz Williams and his staff can use those weeks before the official start of practices for skill work, as opposed to having to focus on Taylor’s rehab.

UNLV’s Stephen Zimmerman out with a knee injury

UNLV forward Stephen Zimmerman Jr. shoots against San Diego State during an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
(L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
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The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.

The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.

They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.

That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.

So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.

Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:

VIDEO: Buddy Hield is ‘all money’ on game-winning three vs. No. 24 Texas

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) takes a shot over Oklahoma State forward Chris Oliver during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
(AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
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With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.

At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes

“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:

“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”

“It’s all money.”

Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.

Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .

Want to talk about coaching luxuries?

Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.