There’s perhaps no other Division I team this season that’s been plagued more by injuries than Wichita State, UE’s opponent for a 3:35 p.m. Sunday tip at the Ford Center.
The 23rd-ranked Shockers (15-1, 4-0 Missouri Valley Conference) expect to play again this weekend without three starters: senior Carl Hall, redshirt freshman Ron Baker and sophomore Evan Wessel.
Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall updated each player’s injury status earlier this week on the MVC coaches’ teleconference before Southern Illinois took the Shockers to the wire in an 82-76 game on Wednesday.
—On Hall, who left as Wichita State’s leading scorer (13.9 ppg) and rebounder (7.6 rpg) when he injured his thumb in a December practice: “Carl’s got the cast off. He’s doing some rehab on the thumb — that’s the right thumb. It was huge when it came out of surgery and even before surgery, so it depends upon how he heals and how good the surgeon was. He’s on pace for the middle of January with what I’m told.”
—On Baker (7.3 ppg), who’s still on crutches with a stress fracture in his foot: “With the stress fracture for Ron Baker, it’s going to be a week or two after that — maybe late January, early February. I don’t know. Neither one of those guys (Baker or Hall) have a redshirt year available to apply for a medical hardship.”
—On Wessel (5.5 ppg), who will have season-ending surgery on his pinkie: “Evan Wessel, who was one of our best 3-point shooters and one of our best players, he went down with a pinkie. He was the first one to go down, and the recommendation at that point was to keep him out a couple of weeks and see if the pain subsides, and he can play one or two games before we have to make the decision on surgery. But he’s not been able to get to that point, so surgery does look like it’s imminent for him. He does have a medical redshirt available to apply for, and that may be the route we take with him.”
The good news for Wichita State? With three starters out, junior college transfer Cleanthony Early scored 39 points — the most by any MVC player this season — in the Shockers’ win over Southern Illinois.
And Wichita State is used to losing its top scorers at this point. The Shockers don’t have any of their top five back from last season’s NCAA tournament run and have lost just once, 69-60, to Tennessee on the road.