The upcoming seven games are the toughest games of the year. February through March can be said to be the dog days of the NCAA men’s basketball season. As Kansas prepares to face a TCU team searching for its first win in the Big 12 this year, the Hawks face the adversity of late season bumps, bruises, fatigue and injuries.
“Especially at this level, for some reason it seems like it gets worse,” Tarik Black said. “It seems like the injuries just become worse. I guess at this level everybody is stronger, so when you do hurt yourself and how you hurt yourself, it’s more of an impact…It’s also the length of the season. Your body gets worn out a little more and it becomes tougher to recover.”
One of the biggest hits to the starting roster may be freshman Joel Embiid. He hurt his knee in late January and then his back against West Virginia. The injuries are taking a toll and he didn’t play like himself against K-State.
"He's landing on one foot, he's not exploding, he's looking around to see if he's going to get hit as opposed to initiating contact because he's sore in different areas. There's certainly some signs that he has not been himself. It would be like if you’re a running back and your high ankle sprain hasn’t totally healed, you can be out there but you are not going to be fully effective and that's where Joe is right now."
Embiid sat out of practice all week but Self says he is feeling better than he did on Monday.
“MRIs and things like that have been done and tell us that there's a good chance he is going to get better quickly,” Self said. “It's not something that should linger too long if in fact we treat it and rest it appropriately. A lot will depend on how he feels 24 hours from now and if he's able to practice. If he's able to practice, he'll play and if he's not able to practice then I would say he probably will not play.”
But the Hawks must focus on TCU and they can't take anything for granted.
“If you look at their last games they only lost to Texas by three,” Black said. “The team that is second in the conference. We can look at the statistics and say they haven’t gotten a win yet but they very well could have won that game and they had opportunities to win it. They can definitely get that win in conference. It just hasn’t happened yet.”
KU defeated the Horned Frogs 91-69 in Fort Worth on Jan. 25 with freshman Andrew Wiggins posting 27 points. This time around TCU comes into Allen Fieldhouse on Feb. 15 looking for their first Big 12 win of the season and the Jayhawks look to rebound from their overtime loss to K-State.