Back woes keep KU's Johanning mostly on bench
It's painful just to hear David Johanning explain his back problems.
"I have two degenerative discs. One is bulging, one is herniated," Kansas University's senior basketball center said about the ailment that's made him a seldom-used sub this season.
"It feels pretty terrible once in a while," Johanning added, forcing a grin.
His back has felt a bit better since a trip back to hometown Wichita for Christmas.
"My doctor gave me anti-inflammatory medication. It helps a lot. If it keeps helping like it is now, I'll feel a lot better," Johanning, a 6-10, 220-pounder said. "It's supposed to reduce the swelling in the bulge. Hopefully, this will do the trick."
Johanning felt good enough to play 7 minutes in Saturday's BMA Classic victory over Temple.
HIS SHORT baseline jumper halted a 13-0 run that made quite a dent in KU's early 21-point lead.
"I felt the most comfortable on the floor I've been all year. I seemed to be moving better," Johanning said.
He understands his lack of playing time.
"There are some things I haven't been able to do as well as last year," he said. "Maybe now that it's feeling better I can get more out of practice and contribute more."
Johanning does not, however, feel like his senior season is wasting away.
"On our team, everybody helps out," he said. "Rex (Walters) gave me a Christmas card that made me feel good, some of the things he said. He said `You are a part of the team as much as anybody else.' That's why I think we have such a good team. Nobody is selfish. We're really a team."
JOHANNING TRIES to lead even though his playing time has been minimal.
"The things I do in practice and games, trying to help the young kids out, I do that," said Johanning. "But contributing in a game, that makes you feel a lot better."
Coach Roy Williams says Johanning has done a remarkable job just showing up for practice.
"David has good days and bad days," said Williams. "Right before Christmas, he had as tough a day as he's had this season. He's been great, phenomenal.
"People have no idea the pain that kid is going through. Our staff is so proud of him. We know he's going through a lot. He's adding a great deal even though the injury has slowed him down."
Williams believes Johanning's presence has helped team chemistry.
"He's an intelligent young man. He can sit there during the game and help guys who are playing," Williams said. "The other guys respect him."
Williams respects his seniors so much he hesitates to yell at them, even when they do foolish things like fire up three-pointers in the last seconds of routs.
"IN TALKING to Greg Ostertag," said Williams, who didn't like the seven-footer's three-point try late in a romp over Southern Mississippi, "I said I said nothing to Macolm (Nash) when he shot one (at end of DePaul rout) because he is a senior. David overheard me and said `Coach does that mean I can shoot one?' I said, `You can take one.' So in the shootaround at Kemper, I guess he shot quite a few in," Williams added with a grin.
Supposedly he hit four out of his first six, maybe a sign his aching back actually IS finally getting better.