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Archive for Tuesday, December 12, 2000

KU’s Gregory could follow in footsteps of hurt seniors

December 12, 2000

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It's beginning to look like Kenny Gregory has joined the most dreaded of all clubs reserved for Kansas University basketball players.

Gregory is now a prime candidate for initiation into SWMSGWI an acronym for Seniors Who Missed Several Games With Injuries.

The most prominent members of the unwanted fraternity are Raef LaFrentz, Jacque Vaughn and Scot Pollard. All three of those Jayhawks missed from eight to 10 games each with an injury during their senior seasons.

Pollard sat out eight games with a stress fracture in his left foot during the 1996-97 campaign. That was also the year Vaughn missed 10 games with a wrist injury. And, a season later, LaFrentz was benched for nine games with a broken bone in his hand.

Like the others, Gregory seemed indestructible during his first three years on Mount Oread, missing nary a game even though he suffered from recurring back pain. Then a foot stress fracture forced him to miss last Thursday's miasma at Wake Forest ending his games-played streak at 113 games and he won't play tonight at DePaul.

Don't expect to see the 6-foot-5 swingman from Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday against Tulsa KU's only home game within a 47-day stretch either. Moreover, I'll be surprised if Gregory plays a week from Saturday in his eagerly anticipated homecoming game at Ohio State.

You never know, of course, because Gregory obviously has anticipated playing in his hometown for a long time, but I'm basing these assumptions on the history of Kansas University basketball players with stress fractures in their feet.

Pollard, as noted, missed eight games with a similar injury, and T.J. Pugh sat out nine contests while recovering from the same ailment in 1997-98, his junior year.

Stress fractures apparently aren't all that uncommon in basketball. Several years ago, you may recall, former Jayhawks Adonis Jordan and Sean Alvarado were sidelined with hairline cracks of the tibia.

Sprained ankles must be the most common ailment among basketball players, though. Luke Axtell missed four games earlier this season with an ailing ankle and re-sprained the ankle at Monday's practice. He is listed as questionable for tonight.

Former KU standouts as Cedric Hunter, Richard Scott, Kevin Pritchard and Paul Pierce all missed at least one game with a turned ankle.

Some of the Jayhawks' injuries, like Axtell's misfortunes, have occurred during practice sessions, and that has caused some Kansas University fans to wonder if coach Roy Williams is too hard on his players in pre-game preparations.

That speculation doesn't wash, though, when you tick off the names of all the Williams-era players who went the distance. Of the 14 men on the list of KU players with most career games are 10 who played for Williams and two Pritchard and Mark Randall who played for both Williams and predecessor Larry Brown.

It's worthwhile to note that No. 2 on KU's all-time games played list behind Danny Manning is Ryan Robertson, a guard who toiled from 1996-99.

Let's face it, if ever there was a KU basketball player who looked like he'd be injury prone, it was the spindly, baby-faced Robertson, and yet he played in 142 games two more than Nick Bradford who was no Mr. America himself. Pritchard is No. 4 on the career games chart and Steve Woodberry, another thin and frail-looking guard, is fifth.

It's true Kansas players of the '90s have logged the most games because of expanded schedules and more frequent NCAA appearances. For instance, LaFrentz is 13th on the list even though he missed those nine games with the hand injury.

When it comes to injuries, about all you can say is that players who look like oak trees can suffer them while other players who look like toothpicks sometimes don't.

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