Mario Chalmers, who didn't miss a single game his freshman season at Kansas University, wasn't about to sit out the regular-season opener of his sophomore campaign.
"I knew I was going to play tonight," a determined Chalmers said Saturday after scoring five points with four rebounds and three steals while logging 16 minutes in the Jayhawks' 91-57 rout of Northern Arizona in Allen Fieldhouse.
All with a severely sprained left big toe.
"We'd been working really hard trying to get it loose for the game. The trainers did a really good job getting it loose. They also stretched the side of my shoe out to take pressure off my toe. It worked," said Chalmers, who hurt his toe in the first exhibition game against Washburn and missed Tuesday's game against Emporia State.
"It feels good right now. I think it's getting better every day. We'll keep working on it."
KU coach Bill Self was impressed his gritty guard was able to play effectively.
"I was proud of Mario. His toe is bad. He fought through it," Self said. "He should be 100 percent in a couple of days."
Self didn't start Chalmers, who practiced 50 percent of the time Thursday and Friday, but not because freshman Sherron Collins has beaten the sophomore out of a spot.
"I wasn't going to start Mario in case we needed him at the end," Self said. "I knew he could only play 16, 20 minutes.
"Sherron is playing well. Over time he has to beat out somebody. I wouldn't read anything into it (Collins starting). When Mario gets healthy, I anticipate Mario moving back (to starting spot) and bringing Sherron off the bench."
Chalmers wasn't thinking about that Saturday.
"I didn't mind at all. I knew coach would do what's best for the team. Sherron stepped in and did a good job," Chalmers said. "That's the best thing about it."
Maybe the best thing was Chalmers' answering the call on a night he was not 100 percent.
"I feel I showed we as a team are pretty tough, and a little injury will not keep us out," he said. "We'll keep working hard all year to get better."