Shawn Kemp Jr. was recovering well from his concussion, coach Lorenzo Romar said, and was going to have a chance to play on Thursday against Colorado.
But then the 6-foot-9 senior forward strained his calf during an extra conditioning workout, and so he won’t be able to play tomorrow after all. Romar also said it’s doubtful Kemp will be able to play Saturday against Utah, meaning the UW’s best low-post scorer will miss at least three, and likely four, consecutive games due to injury.
Sophomore point guard Nigel Williams-Goss, who missed the USC game with a sprained left ankle, said he’s still a little sore, but he’s practiced this week and fully expects to play tomorrow.
Here’s the rest of what Romar said during his weekly media availability.
(Shawn Kemp Jr.’s prognosis?) “Shawn was going to be fine. He participated on Monday I believe it was, with no contact, but during his conditioning he strained his calf. So he will be out for the game tomorrow.”
(Does he have any chance to play against Utah?) “I would say he’s doubtful for Saturday. But with a strained calf, you don’t know how quickly it can respond. You have to be concerned if you come back too fast, one quick movement, it can start all over. We’ll see how he feels, but definitely will be out tomorrow.
(What happened?) “He was just getting extra conditioning in, just to try to get ready to come back the next day. He didn’t do a lot that day. Just one of those things.”
(Do you ever marvel that all these injuries are happening?) “Kind of, yeah. We’ve avoided this … I guess 2012 maybe, C.J. (Wilcox), there were games, I forget which year he had to sit out, but I remember he couldn’t practice. And that went on for a couple years and then Scott Suggs was out. Abdul Gaddy tore his ACL. But nothing like the last two years. Last year in the preseason and this year during conference play – it’s not something you’re really able to prepare for and say, ‘OK now, when all this happens we’re going to be ready because we’ve got this Plan B.’ It just doesn’t happen. Very unusual.”
(On defensive issues the past several games) “If we throw the USC game out, because that wasn’t us, but prior to that, say the last three or four games, we were small. We think about maybe going zone to keep guys somewhat fresh, because we don’t have the depth, so we can’t force a lot of turnovers because we don’t have that depth to keep putting pressure on you. But we can’t sit back and just let you come at us because we’re so small. Sometimes playing the zone is difficult because of our lack of size. So we’re kind of right now trying to sort through these things, and in the midst of it, I just think we had regressed to where we weren’t doing the things that we just know to do. We continue to watch film, continue to emphasize it during practice. you also sometimes when you’re playing and someone out there is not getting it done the way you want, well, get somebody fresh in there to do it. We haven’t had that luxury to be able to do that. There are a number of reasons, but it shouldn’t be happening.”
(Happy with the effort?) “Up until the USC game, yes. I wasn’t happy with the effort in the USC game. But the other games, yes.”
(How do you keep guys from getting down?) “We’re trying to point out as to why things can still work out. We’re trying to point out and show mistakes that we could have controlled. At 6-foot-2, you go under the basket and you’re trying to defend against Kaleb Tarczewski from Arizona, and they just keep throwing the ball to him and he’s catching it – not a whole lot you can do. But we’re trying to show examples that if we would have just moved over two steps, two steps over that we knew we were supposed to do that – if we could do that, if we could communicate more defensively. The things that we can control, the things we know, the things that – you could go conduct your own clinic and tell kids, ‘this is where you’re supposed to be.’ We know them. If we just did those things, we could improve like that. Some of those things, we’re trying to show, to say hey, if we can dial in and get that done, we still can be a much better team.”
(Expect a different Colorado team this time?) “Oh yeah, definitely. Josh Scott and Xavier Johnson both back, those are two starters. Scott’s an all-conference player. Xavier’s had an up-and-down year, but he’s definitely an all-conference talent. It makes it a little easier for Askia Booker to roam around and do his thing when you get those guys back, so it definitely will be a different team.”
(On guarding the post with Scott back and Kemp out) “Hopefully we learned from our mistakes in the UCLA game, the things that we need to do, which I won’t go into now. But hopefully we learned from that, and we can make the necessary adjustments so we can compete a lot better than we did in that game.”
(Is Kemp the most valuable player on the team right now with so little depth on the front line?) “Right now, he becomes very, very important because of what you just said. That’s the area where we’ve been dropping off from the beginning of the season. If it were a perimeter situation, maybe it would be different. But he is very valuable. He’s the strongest player on our team. Definitely the strongest post player. He’s the most experienced. He’s our best low-post scorer. There are a lot of things that he provides for us that it’s hard to duplicate without him being in there.”
(More on guarding the post) “We have to change and be a little creative in how we’re going to man the paint, so to speak. We have to do that. Those are things we’ve been diligently looking at film on and talking about as a staff, and spending a lot of time trying to find a way to make it work in spite of the deficiency there.”
(Do you go with Donaven Dorsey, or play five guards and try to run?) “Again, because of a lack of depth, there’s not a whole lot of things we can – everything you just said is doing to be in there sooner or later, because we don’t have a lot of ways to go, not a lot of options. At some point, there will be five guards in there on the floor, because we have two guys right now that are available that are over 6-foot-6. Jernard Jarreau is back, he’s played a couple of games, but it’s hard for Jernard to play a lot of minutes. He’s played 28, 26 something like that. Those are a lot of minutes to have sat out the way he has with the knee.”
(On Jernard Jarreau not being a true post player) “Jernard, like I said, we’ve had guys in the past that have been great role players – Bobby Jones, Justin Holiday. Guys that were so good at what they did, they’re in the NBA right now, doing that. And Bobby played in the NBA and is still playing overseas. But if you were to put those guys on a 6-10, 6-11 guy the entire game, they’d get worn down. If they were the tallest guy out there, trying to get that done by themselves, it would be difficult. If you put Jernard in there alongside a Shawn, someone else that’s strong with him, or someone else that has his size, then he becomes an even more valuable support guy in that position.”
(On what Mike Anderson has brought to the program) “Just a lot of grit. A lot of selflessness. Last year he played out of position pretty much the entire year, and just did it, no questions asked. Just did it. You talk about being disappointed with the effort against USC, it wasn’t with Mike Anderson. He went in there and grabbed 15 rebounds at 6-foot-4, and was just a workhorse. That’s kind of what he’s been for us.”
(On Quevyn Winters’ big game against USC) “He shot the ball with confidence, and if he shoots the ball with confidence, that adds a whole new dimension to our team, and it helps him individually do a much better job. That’s what he brings to the table, the ability to knock that shot down.”
(On how Andrew Andrews should be viewed considering recent play) “Andrew is playing at an all-conference level right now, so I don’t know how many would see him as an all-conference guy before the season started. But right now, we talked about his last six games last year, he finished well, but just the way he’s going about his business. He scores 35 in a game, he’s hit two game-winners for us, he’s averaging 18, 19 points in these last games. He’s really playing at an all-conference level.”
(On his recruitment and being an add-on to the 2011 class) “Andrew was never an add-on. He was a guy that we had recruited him but didn’t really recruit him hard until the end, and we got a chance to really hone-in and watch him, and that’s when we offered him a scholarship. I remember the situation – we had Tony Wroten here, and Isaiah Thomas was going into his senior year. I believe that was the case. With Isaiah leaving – if Isaiah wasn’t leaving and Tony Wroten was here, we felt Andrew would play, but not as many minutes. A lot like the C.J. Wilcox situation. And he agreed that he would play, and Tony Wroten left, and the next year he came in as a freshman. (NOTE: Andrews was on the roster, with Wroten, and redshirted in 2011-12). Again, it was great, because right now he would be a senior. He’d be done. And now he still has another year left. So he wasn’t an add-on, he was a guy that we delayed him coming on and playing because we had other guys here.”
(On guys needing to step up and Darin Johnson not doing that yet) “I think what Darin is doing, he would tell you by his own admission, is maybe defense wasn’t the first thing he thought about when he came here, when he was in high school. But he is really trying to embrace that side of the floor. He’s trying to become a better rebounder. He’s trying to become more well-rounded. With that being said, I think he is just trying to do the right thing, in some regard. And you go through that period where you’re trying to really develop sometimes. But then when you come out of it, you’re way better than you were before. Now you come out of it, you’re a better offensive player, and you’re a better all-around player than you were before. So I think he’s just going through a transitional period, because he’s trying to do things to get better.”