Shabazz Napier Sidelined by Shoulder Injury, Hopes to Play Saturday vs. Pitt
“Hopefully, he’ll practice (Friday) and have a good game on Saturday, but we wanted him to rest it, just in case,” Kevin Ollie explained. “He took a hard fall. We wanted to make sure everything structurally was fine.”
The injury came a little less than four minutes into the game, when Napier was fouled by Peyton Siva, crashed to the floor and had Louisville’s Wayne Blackshear land on his shoulder.
Here’s what Napier had to say about his injury:
And here’s some more of what Napier said, including a high degree of self-criticism from the Louisville game:
“It’s a struggle for me to move it to the side. It just hurts. I landed in an awkward position. (Blackshear) just landed right on my shoulder … it kind of pinched my rotator cuff. Whenever I rotate it, it hurts a lot. After the game it was hurting a lot, but now it’s cooled down. I’ve been moving it much better than I did after the game.”
UConn was originally slated to practice Friday morning at Gampel. Instead, the Huskies will go at 5 p.m. in Pittsburgh, to give Napier more rest and see if he’s able to get up some shots.
“Hopefully, I’m able to wake up with no pain and try to shoot, because I haven’t touched a ball in about three days. That’s kinda tough.”
“I’m kinda upset that I hurt myself during the Louisville game, because watching the tape, I felt like I didn’t give much. I looked slow and sluggish out there … I’m just trying to work harder now, look at myself in the mirror much closer now, because that was an awful performance by myself. No leadership, seemed like I didn’t keep my composure. Everything that I didn’t want to happen, happened. I just want to work harder for my teammates and the fan base, because they expected more and they should have gotten more, not only from myself but from the team.”
If Napier can’t play or is limited, UConn is confident others will step up and fill in for the team’s leading scorer.
“We have a motto around here: Next man up,” said Ollie. “If he’s not feeling well, not able to play to the level that we think he needs to play at, then R.J.’s got to play a bigger role, Brendan’s got to be ready to come off (the bench). We’ll find a way, like we’ve been doing the whole season.”
Said Tyler Olander: “It’s going to put a lot of pressure on the guards. Maybe we’re going to have to slow it down a little bit, just to give them a break. They can’t really be running up and down the whole time. We’re really going to have to execute in the halfcourt, slow them in transition, make them work on offense, definitely rebound. Just try to give Boat as much of a break as possible when he needs it.”
And Omar Calhoun: “We’ll see if he’s playing or not. We feel like as a group, we all stay together. Next man up, that’s what Coach Ollie always says.”