SEATTLE – In the absence-makes-the-heart-grow-fonder world of athletics, the University of Washington men’s basketball team has exponentially missed two injured players with each frustrating performance.
During their fall to a 2-3 record late last month, the Huskies were beginning to look upon Scott Suggs in street clothes like he was the second coming of Brandon Roy. And the way UW coach was talking up Shawn Kemp Jr., you’d have thought he was … well, Shawn Kemp Sr.
Just how much Suggs and Kemp can help this year’s Huskies is a question that could be answered in the near future – perhaps as soon as Saturday evening.
Kemp said Tuesday that he “definitely should be back Saturday,” while Suggs is also expected to begin practicing this week with a possibility of being back in action this weekend.
Romar said Tuesday that Kemp (torn patellar tendon in his right knee) and Suggs (plantar fasciitis in his foot) won’t get cleared for full participation in practice until Thursday, and he wasn’t making any projections about their chances of being on the floor for Saturday’s game against Nevada.
“I can’t put anything on it, myself,” Romar said Tuesday. “… If they can practice a couple of days (this week), then they’ll be available.”
Now sitting at 4-3 with a pair of close home wins under their belts, the Huskies have weathered the storm of being short-handed and could be getting closer to full strength. But just getting back a pair of players who have a combined 14 career starts probably isn’t going to turn UW into a top-five program overnight.
It will certainly be a good first step toward progress, however.
“We just have more depth and can sustain our defense for longer periods of time, and we don’t have to concoct different ways to get through the game defensively,” Romar said of the effect Suggs and Kemp could have on the team when they return.
The Huskies believe that Kemp could add some rebounding to a team that struggled on the boards in a loss to Colorado State two weeks ago.