Tag: back injury

Joel Embiid

Kansas’ Joel Embiid dealt with lower back issues in high school as well

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One of the biggest storylines of the week is the health of Kansas freshman center Joel Embiid, who isn’t expected to play in the Big 12 tournament this week due to his having a stress fracture in his lower back. What remains to be decided is just how long will Embiid have to sit, with the answer likely impacting the Jayhawks’ draw in the NCAA tournament.

“How quickly and if Jo comes back will be determined by his symptoms and how well he does in rehab,” Self said according to the Lawrence Journal-World. “I am not optimistic that there is a definite time frame, but I’m very optimistic that it’s possible that if our team is successful enough, he could play again this year.”

In the linked story, written by Tom Keegan of the Journal-World, Embiid’s back injury is compared to that of Emeka Okafor during UConn’s 2004 season. Okafor missed the entire Big East tournament with a stress fracture in his lower back, and the Huskies received a two-seed in the NCAA tournament with that health status likely having an impact.

With improved health thanks to the rest Okafor played at least 32 minutes in four of UConn’s six NCAA tournament games, with the exceptions being their Elite 8 win over Alabama (the Huskies rolled to an 87-71 victory) and the Final Four win over Duke (picked up two quick fouls in the first half). That scenario seems to be the hope for Kansas in regards to Embiid, with Self stating that the center won’t return until he’s ready to physically.

It should also be noted that Embiid dealt with lower back issues as a senior in high school, with his high school coach Justin Harden telling the Journal-World that it was a concern last spring.

“When you are 7-feet tall, there’s a lot more to take care of. You are 7-feet tall. There’s more stuff to be concerned with because your body is bigger,” Harden said, referring to tweaking different areas of the body.

“With some rest, he seemed to have it corrected (entering freshman season at KU). I’m sure with the rest he gets now … they have better doctors and trainers and staff over there (at KU) to rehab him and get him back to normal. I’m sure he’ll be all right soon enough,” Harden added.

Lower back problems can be (at the very least) a nuisance for regular people, much less an elite athlete. So with there being no concrete timeline provided by the school, who knows when we’ll see Embiid back on the floor for the Jayhawks. But it’s clearly a situation in which Kansas doesn’t want to rush him back out of fear of Embiid aggravating the injury.

Mitch McGary on rehab following back surgery: ‘I really don’t know right now’

Mitch McGary
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On Saturday night, Michigan State was without Adreian Payne (for the fifth straight game) and Branden Dawson. The injuries have been an on-going dilemma for the Spartans. But Sparty wasn’t the only team inside the Breslin Center on Saturday dealing with sidelined starters.

Michigan has been without sophomore center Mitch McGary, an preseason All-American, since Dec. 14. The 6-foot-10 McGary has missed 11 games this season and counting after undergoing back surgery on Jan. 7.

Following Saturday’s big conference win over in-state its rival, the Michigan big man spoke for the first time about his back, and the recovery process, according to Brendan Quinn of MLive.com

“I really don’t know right now,” McGary answered when asked when he’ll start rehab. He’s waiting for another appointment with his doctor. There is no timetable for his return.

McGary, the breakout star in last season’s NCAA tournament, is averaging 9.5 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game in eight contests for the Wolverines. He’s missed nine straight games, all wins for Michigan.

Despite being out, McGary has clearly played a role in the team’s win streak with strategic game plans like this:


Is the ‘Mitch McGary Injury Watch’ close to ending?

Michigan v Louisville
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On the heels of a breakout NCAA tournament, Michigan sophomore center Mitch McGary is a player many expect to be in the conversation for All-America honors while also making the Wolverines one of the biggest threats to preseason favorite Michigan State in the Big Ten. Only one problem, however: McGary’s yet to play this season due to a lower back injury. As a result there have been many questions as to when McGary will be able to return to the floor, with head coach John Beilein unable to provide a concrete timetable.

During a teleconference for next week’s Puerto Rico Tip-Off the question was asked yet again, and while Beilein still didn’t have an actual date for McGary’s return he did note that “it will probably happen very quickly.”

“We’re waiting for McGary’s return,” Beilein said. “Still do not know when it’s going to be, when it will happen. It will probably happen very quickly, and we are just waiting to make sure that everything is right for him to return.”

So what defines “very quickly”? U-M plays at Iowa State on Sunday, then opens against Long Beach State in Puerto Rico a week from today in the tournament which spans three games in four days.

Sunday’s game against Iowa State features two injury questions of high importance, with the Wolverines and Cyclones unsure of the status of McGary and All-Big 12 forward Melvin Ejim, respectively. But in the case of McGary lower back issues can be tricky, and the prospect of playing three games in four days in Puerto Rico could prove to be problematic for someone who’s yet to see game action this season.

McGary’s return to the lineup would obviously help Michigan, as he’d join veterans Jon Horford and Jordan Morgan and give the Wolverines another talented body in their front court rotation. But not if the big man isn’t back to full strength. So while the wait may be difficult for all involved, if more rest is what’s required to make sure that McGary’s ready for the physical challenges that Big Ten play presents then so be it.

Because for as valuable as McGary would be for the Wolverines’ upcoming tests, it does neither he nor the program any good if it comes at the expense of McGary’s availability during conference and postseason play.