Tale of 2 basketball teams coping with key injury

UW BASKETBALL: Washington has survived playing without C.J. Wilcox, while Arizona State struggles without Trent Lockett

RYAN DIVISH; Staff writerJanuary 25, 2012 

SEATTLE – One team has been able to withstand the loss of a key contributor. The other team, not so much.

When the Washington Huskies play at Arizona State on Thursday, there’s a good chance they will be without shooting guard C.J. Wilcox for the fourth consecutive game.

The Sun Devils will likely be without do-everything shooting guard Trent Lockett for the third game in a row.

Wilcox will not practice and will be a game-time decision, coach Lorenzo Romar said.

“They will send him through some tests on Thursday and see how he responds,” he said.

Even then, the Huskies may wait until Saturday’s game against Arizona before bringing back Wilcox, giving the stress fracture in his femur a few more days to heal.

“I think we will have him back before the year is over,” Romar said. “It’s just a matter of when. Ultimately, with enough rest, it will be manageable.”

Lockett, who suffered a nasty ankle sprain early in the second half of the win over Oregon State on Jan. 14, is questionable for the game.

“We do not have an update, other than he is making progress,” ASU coach Herb Sendek said on the Pacific-12 Conference media call. “We do not know if he’ll be available for us on Thursday yet or not.”

Romar can’t allow himself to get his hopes up about playing a Lockett-less Sun Devils.

“We are going to assume that Trent Lockett is playing,” he said.

So which player’s injury hurts worse for his team?

The Huskies won two of the three games they played without Wilcox. Romar said he believes that his team would have beaten California instead of losing by three points if Wilcox could have played even 15 minutes.

“Cal is a good team, and we didn’t get it done at home, but the fact we were able to go 2-1 without C.J., I feel like we dodged a bullet,” Romar said.

The Sun Devils were 0-2 in the two full games without Lockett, both blowout losses, including a 20-point drubbing to an awful Utah team.

“We don’t have any one player to go into a phone booth and become Trent,” Sendek said. “Trent basically leads us in every statistical category.”

Lockett leads ASU in minutes played (35.0 per game), scoring (13.9 points per game), rebounding (6.4 per game), free throws attempted and made (60-for-83), 3-point shooting percentage (42.4) and steals (26). Lockett is second in assists (37) and field-goal percentage (54.7).

“We all have to carry an extra bucket of water without him,” Sendek said.

Therein lies the difference between the two teams. Washington has enough depth and talent to carry the buckets of water, while Arizona State does not.

Wilcox’s 15.5 points per game are valuable, as is his shooting from 3-point range. But Washington has three guards – Tony Wroten, Terrence Ross and Abdul Gaddy – who are more than willing to take Wilcox’s minutes and shot attempts.

ASU is down to seven scholarship players. Sendek booted sophomore Keala King, who was averaging 13 points per game, off the team for “unacceptable conduct” in early January.

The Sun Devils never got top recruit Jahii Carson into a uniform this season. The heralded point guard out of Mesa was never cleared academically to compete by the NCAA.

The Huskies could have withstood Wilcox’s injury even better had senior Scott Suggs not suffered a stress fracture in his foot and decided to redshirt this season.

SHOWS HE CAN PLAY

Austin Seferian-Jenkins’ college basketball debut went better than expected.

The football star and walk-on power forward did almost everything but make a basket in his first game against Stanford on Saturday.

Seferian-Jenkins pulled down seven rebounds and had an assist before he fouled out.

Normally, it would seem like a big confidence builder for a player. But Seferian-Jenkins doesn’t lack confidence in any situation. He expected to play well.

“I’m sure he feels good about himself,” Romar said. “He was pretty confident going into that game. He played with attitude of, ‘What is everybody getting excited about? This is what I do.’”

Romar had no plan for Seferian-Jenkins in the Stanford game other than introducing him to college basketball with a soft landing.

“We wanted to put him in the game early to see what happened,” Romar said. “You have a little more margin for error early.”

He grabbed five rebounds in nine minutes. The way Seferian-Jenkins played early earned him more minutes later in the game, while fellow posts Martin Breunig and Shawn Kemp Jr. watched.

“Coaches don’t make as many decisions as you think when it comes to playing time,” Romar said. “Austin forced our hand to play him more.”

As for Breunig and Kemp? The true freshmen are handling the situation with maturity.

“Martin and Shawn have had great attitudes,” Romar said. “They cheered for Austin. Obviously, they would like to play more.”

Ryan Divish: 253-597-8483 ryan.divish@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports

THURSDAY

Washington at Arizona State, 5:30 p.m., Root Sports, 950-AM

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