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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

KU freshman Udoka Azubuike out for the season with wrist injury

Kansas freshman forward Udoka Azubuike warms up prior to Tuesday's game against UMKC at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas freshman forward Udoka Azubuike warms up prior to Tuesday's game against UMKC at Allen Fieldhouse.

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The depth in an already thin Kansas basketball frontcourt became much shallower on Wednesday, when the Jayhawks learned that a wrist injury suffered by 7-foot freshman Udoka Azubuike during Tuesday’s practice will cost the 17-year-old big man the rest of the season.

“Udoka tore ligaments to his left wrist in practice Tuesday that will require surgery and he will miss the remainder of the season,” KU coach Bill Self said in a news release. “Surgery should take place in the next few weeks and doctors are confident he will make a full recovery and be full-speed sometime this summer.”

Even though Self’s Jayhawks have operated with a four-guard lineup for the majority of the 2016-17 season thus far, Azubuike’s presence in the middle represented both serious size and tremendous potential.

The Nigerian native has started the past six games as the lone big man in KU’s starting lineup and averaged 5 points and 4.4 rebounds while also leading the team with 18 blocked shots.

His absence puts more importance on the play of senior Landen Lucas and sophomore Carlton Bragg Jr. — both starters to open the season — who have shown in recent games that they are working through the early-season funks that affected both players.

Lucas likely will return to the starting lineup in Azubuike’s place and Self said in the release that he was confident his veteran team would be able to absorb the bad news.

“We all feel bad for Udoka,” Self said. “He has worked so hard and has put himself in a position to have a tremendous impact on this year’s squad. This is a blow to our team, but I know that we will rally around this and Udoka will work hard to ensure a full recovery.”

Third-ranked Kansas (10-1) plays at UNLV (7-5) on Thursday night at 8 p.m. in Las Vegas.

Comments

Mo Golany 5 months, 1 week ago

I'm stunned this sucks! Was really looking forward to his progression!

Brett McCabe 5 months, 1 week ago

Feel terrible for Udoka, and his teammates. Hope that everything turns out great on the surgery and rehab. Keep you chin up big fella.

Daniel Kennamore 5 months, 1 week ago

Our ceiling just dropped from National Title threats to Elite 8 at best.

Noah Oone 5 months, 1 week ago

Not sure that is true necessarily. The team still has a lot of growth and a fair amount of potential. Our defense is improving but obviously can be better. Carlton has yet to get fully connected into the offense, meaning that his role is not yet fully defined. The coaching staff needs to get him into more pick and rolls and spray in jumpers just like Perry, something he has proved to be more than capable of doing. I know Dwight does not have all of his explosiveness back, but we will need him and Mitch to get a few minutes in a game so that our guards can rest.

In short, no this does not break our season. How quickly everyone forgets how short on depth both Villanova and UConn were from the past few seasons. Let's not panic and wait and see how our guys react and develop.

Dirk Medema 5 months, 1 week ago

Far from it.

Dok is good, and has the potential to be great, even in 1 season, but we have lots of options.

Brian Mellor 5 months, 1 week ago

The idea that our season somehow depends on a single 17-year old freshman who struggles to shoot even 50% from the line seems somewhat . . . ludicrous, on the face of it.

Jim Stauffer 5 months, 1 week ago

I fear you are correct. With so many teams on nearly an equal footing this year. Probably 10-12 teams actually could get on a roll and win the whole thing. I fear we just dropped to tier 2 in that regard. I am hopeful we can still win No. 13. That would be some satisfaction from a team I originally thought had a realistic chance to win it all.

Marius Rowlanski 5 months, 1 week ago

We still have vastly under used Coleby who must know this is his moment. Coleby was recruited by Self who must have seen something in him and his judgment so far is obviously pretty sound. Lightfoot and especially Bragg will need to step up and Lucas will need to learn how to play without the fouls.

I'm not giving up on the season because Udoka (despite his very high ceiling) is averaging only 12.8 minutes per game with 5 points and 4 rebounds. Self knows how to get his players to rally and will get what's needed from them.

Although I highly doubt it would ever matter, is it possible to get a medical redshirt for the year or will he still get the spring semester?

Suzi Marshall 5 months, 1 week ago

Looks like Bragg will be spending some time at the 5...or maybe we won't play a 5....or maybe we'll play 5 guards.

Marius Rowlanski 5 months, 1 week ago

Pretty sure we will have at least 1 of the following, Bragg, Lightfoot, Lucas or Colbey in the game at all times.

Brian Wilson 5 months ago

Suzi, you are usually spot on and I read your opinion often, but, ...had to call you on this one...now you lament starting Bragg instead of Az? I am not happy about the news either, believe me, but ......lol....while I was saying it would be "the Land of Az" by March and weren't you saying his footwork was bad and wouldn't start over Bragg.

Also, you can comment, but IMO, the only mildly good news is this is happening now. Bragg, Coleby and Light will get the time to develop and at least one will probably get his groove on. The biggest issue IMO will be going against bigger teams and getting pushed around. Coleby needs to become an enforcer. Rebounds, and Blocks, not to mention the altering of shots just took a big hit.

David Morrison 5 months, 1 week ago

I wonder if he injured his wrist on the rim. I've often wondered how these powerful "dunkers" avoid injury. This is a blow to the team, without a doubt. I just watched the Kentucky vs. Louisville game. Both teams had a strong inside game. We will face many teams that will test us down low. Hopefully, we are deep enough to handle it.

Noah Oone 5 months, 1 week ago

Neither team has a prolific back to the basket scorer like Carolina, Purdue and other teams. Their inside defense and rebounding are very good, but as we have seen numerous times in the tournament, it is mostly about guard play.

Jonathan Allison 5 months, 1 week ago

wrist injuries almost always occur because of falls. It's natural to try to put your hand down to catch your fall. When you are as big and athletic as these guys are, you can imagine the force placed on the wrist when falling from mid-jump.

Bernard Gregory 5 months, 1 week ago

Wow one of my favorite players this year was looking forward to seeing just how much he would develop during the year.

Gary McCullough 5 months, 1 week ago

I agree that the greatest tragedy in this incident is Udoka is going to miss the experience he would gain from a year's worth of competition. He'll be coming back next year as a freshman-and-a-half rather than a sophomore.

Kent Richardson 5 months, 1 week ago

Well that is just swell news. Hang in there Udoka, Lots you can still work on. What a bummer. Dwight and Mitch please report to the Bat Cave (Hawk Nest).

Dirk Medema 5 months, 1 week ago

At least it wasn't his right wrist. With a ligament injury, the wrist will need to be completely immobilized for months, but that shouldn't stop him from shooting FT's in particular. When Darnell Jackson was suspended in November 2006, his FT% went through the roof because that was about all he could do at practice. Dok could use the time to become an effective FT shooter and make other teams pay for hacking him.

Jonathan Allison 5 months, 1 week ago

This is very true. My freshman year (HS) I broke my left wrist in basketball practice when an upperclassmen undercut me on a fast-break layup. I was only out of competition for 3 or 4 weeks, but in those three or four weeks I vastly improved my shooting by becoming less dependent on my off-hand.

Prior to that, I had always considered myself a good shooter, but I was a little bit of a two-hand shooter growing up because I was mostly a self-taught shooter as a young boy.

It did make it a little harder on me for awhile as a PG because it took some time for me to get comfortable again dribbling with the left hand. I definitely considered that to be a turning point for me though when I was able to improve my shooting form by shooting one handed for 3 weeks in the middle of basketball season.

Marius Rowlanski 5 months ago

Where did you play if you don't mind the intrusion into your privacy.

Jonathan Allison 5 months ago

I played at the teeny-tiny Tyro Christian School in Tyro, Kansas. I was 1st team all-Cherokee Conference as a Sr.

Bryce Landon 5 months, 1 week ago

Oh damn...talk about a lump of coal in your stocking...>.<

Jerry Walker 5 months, 1 week ago

Well, that's certainly not good news...but it's not a deal breaker. Over the last 4 games he's only played about 11mpg.

Yep, it's time for Bragg to pull his weight. And don't sleep on the potential production of Coleby and Lightfoot. As a healthy sophomore at Ole Miss, Coleby averaged 5pts/5rbs in about 16mpg. And with the possibility of more playing time, Lightfoot is going to be a very pleasant surprise to some.

The sexy talk has been to rave about the size and potential of Dok. Yet, in reality, he hasn't produced all that much. He'll be missed (I'm sure his numbers would have improved over the course of the season) but it's not a loss that will collapse the Jayhawk's goal of reaching the final four.

Jay Scott 5 months, 1 week ago

Almost 12 hours and nobody has used that awful and overworked phrase "next man up"...

So there's something nice...

Brett McCabe 5 months ago

Yeah, like " you are arguing with yourself", or "you shouldn't post publicly"?

D-bag, dipsh*t.

Marius Rowlanski 5 months ago

Brett, I hope you and your family the best in the upcoming year and a merry Christmas.

We can get back to insults if that's what you want next year.

Mike Greer 5 months, 1 week ago

It's sad news, it is, however, when the season started no one expected Dok to be much of an impact on the team this season. After the slow starts from Lucas and Bragg, everyone started putting more hope on Dok. If Colby is healthy, he should be able to take some of those minutes, and it appears Lucas and Bragg are adjusting as expected. Lightfoot looked fairly good the other day as well. With the play of the first five guards so far this season, I think the team is still in excellent position to go.....all.......the........way!

Robert Brock 5 months, 1 week ago

Azubuike can help himself a lot by losing some weight and running every day.

Marius Rowlanski 5 months ago

Not sure he needs to lose weight but would like to see his body fat percentage improve. Running every day can help do both.

Adam Collins 5 months, 1 week ago

It should be interesting to see how Self adjusts. He has already shown a fantastic ability to move away from his comfort zone by playing a 4-guard lineup. Now he may have to switch back to a more traditional 3-2 more frequently given neither Carlton nor Mitch are true 5s. At least we will get to see how well we do in the tournament with a guard-oriented lineup for the first time in over a decade.

Barry Weiss 5 months, 1 week ago

Well, this hurts next year's team probably more than this year's in a way. I was really enjoying Dok progress each game this year with a very solid Landon coming in when necessary. All those starts and reps Dok was going to get this year would have set him up as a beast for the start of next year. I agree with all here that this is no deal killer, but he sure was a great option for Coach Self. We got this! Let's stomp the Running Rebs tonight Jayhawks!

Keith Gellar 5 months, 1 week ago

hmm..each year we have some major injuries. I know its part of the game,but seems like our bigs just can keep healthy (Embiid, Alexander, LL). At some point, someone needs to look at Hudy,

She's been proclaimed as the best strength and conditioning coach out there, but we keep on having way too many injuries. this seems concerning to me.

Jerry Walker 5 months, 1 week ago

How is a torn wrist ligament somehow Hudy's fault.

Keith Gellar 5 months, 1 week ago

torn wrist ligaments very common when lifting weights.

Jerry Walker 5 months, 1 week ago

And just how many wrist injuries has Hudy caused from her weight training regimen?

You can stop digging now.. You're all wet in your premise that Hudy has caused injuries to Embid, Alexander, Lucas and Azubuike.

RJ King 5 months ago

I don't think they lift weights during practice. The article stated several times that the injury occurred during practice.

Marius Rowlanski 5 months ago

Really? How many other players at KU have had this injury?

David McNickle 5 months, 1 week ago

Don't think a wrist injury has much to do with Hudy. Unless he did it lifting weights. Athletes fall down.

Jay Scott 5 months, 1 week ago

Blame Hudy? Wow... A new leader for stupidest comment of the year.

Marius Rowlanski 5 months, 1 week ago

Come on Keith, this is sports. Tell me what exercises would have prevented this type of injury. I guess it's natural for some to look to find blame somewhere but on this one, you are way off base.

Keith Gellar 5 months ago

oh wow..didn't mean to go against the grain here! just all homers, yes men and sunshine pumpers here! god forbid someone were to get critical about the team and state some concerns.

I bet the lot here are more than satisfied with winning the big 12, keeping the streak alive and bowing out early in the tourney!

Jerry Walker 5 months ago

Doubling down on stupidity doesn't help your cause.

I don't care that you "state some concerns"...except when they're wildly ignorant of the facts.

RJ King 5 months ago

Well, how about asking first if the players lift weights during practice? I picture practice in the gym, and lifting & conditioning in a separate area. That's just my guess.

The article stated several times that the injury occurred during practice. A preference for reading comprehension and a follow-up question elicits your contempt???

Keith Gellar 5 months ago

if players aren't conditioned properly, they will injure during practice/play. Stop forcing your homer opinions on me. It could very well be not related, but equally be related. i'll keep voicing my concerns as i seem them and you keep blindly supporting.

Len Shaffer 5 months ago

Yes, you keep right on going, Keith. It's funny how often stupid people continue to show how stupid they are, without a care in the world.

And BTW, being a "homer" is not the same thing as wanting a shred of evidence for an idiotic supposition.

Marius Rowlanski 5 months ago

So, what you're saying is that if we don't agree with you than we are all homers? I think I agree with you quite a bit, just not in this case.

Benny Armstrong 5 months ago

Keith, not sure you were able to watch the game last night, but Frank took a bump in mid-air on a layup and was a little gimpy the rest of the game. Surely that was Hudy's fault also, right?

Benz Junque 5 months, 1 week ago

Maybe Bragg and Lucas will be free of the worry of looking over their shoulder to see if Self was bringing in Udoka to replace them and just go out there and start playing like they can now.

Brett McCabe 5 months ago

Nothing more inspiring to great play than seeing your top competition go down with an injury. It this is what it takes to motivate them, than I'm not interested.

David Morrison 5 months ago

I have been a KU basketball fan for longer than many of you have been born. My "seasoned" assessment of this year's team is that a "four guard" lineup will eventually fail them. There are too many teams with very talented bigs that will get Lucas and Bragg in serious foul trouble early......then dominate the game. Our "guards" can't stop em down low. Lack of depth and production from our "bigs" will evenually cost us. I sincerely hope I'm wrong.

Marius Rowlanski 5 months ago

You are most likely correct but the history of the NCAA cast doubt on any certainties. Not many teams have 5 perimeter players to match what we have at KU.

And as Jay says "Next Man Up!".

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