First C.J. Giles.
Now Sasha Kaun.
Kansas University's men's basketball centers are falling as fast as the leaves on the campus trees.
"We are a tiny team all of a sudden," KU coach Bill Self said Monday, a day after Kaun went down with a partially torn patellar tendon at practice. It's a right-knee injury that will keep the junior pivot out three to six weeks, his return likely coming as early as the DePaul game (Dec. 2) or as late as Winston-Salem State (Dec. 19).
"You lose 6-11, 6-11 and all of a sudden you get really small. We're going to have to play small," Self added.
Giles, a junior who is actually listed as 6-foot-10 compared to Kaun's 6-11, remains suspended while he tries to take care of personal issues.
That means 6-8 Julian Wright, who was going to play inside and out this season, will play exclusively on the inside for now with 6-8 junior Darnell Jackson and 6-9 freshman Darrell Arthur.
"We've gone from being a very deep, long athletic team at least for the short term to a team that doesn't have much inside depth at all and not much size," Self said. He indicated 6-4 Rodrick Stewart might play some power forward with walk-on Matt Kleinmann (6-10) a possibility at center.
Kaun was injured when "planting it (right leg) to jump," Self said, noting there was no contact on the play in a scrimmage situation. "To be honest, we're kind of fortunate because we thought yesterday it was maybe worse."
Kaun won't need surgery.
"It's just a minor deal ... it's not a ruptured or completely torn situation. It's not a serious deal, just the timing is not good," Self noted.
Kaun "can't do much in the immediate few days," Self said. "The rehab process won't really begin until we find out a couple, three days from now, exactly in fact if it's going to be a fast-healing situation. We should know by pain tolerance and swelling or do we need to go a bit slower (in rehab)."
2006-07 Oct. 30 Bill Self press conference
Frosh Arthur, meanwhile, needed five stitches to close a cut on his shooting hand after slicing it at practice Sunday, but he'll be ready for practice today, Self said. Also, point guard Sherron Collins has been hindered by a calf strain but also is expected to be 100 percent soon.
"Sherron is not moving very well. He's getting better every day," Self said. "I'll be honest. He hasn't really practiced that well here lately. I think it's due to his health. He picks things up quick, though.
"We are a pretty thin group right now," Self added. "If you guys (media) know anybody on campus 6-9 who can run and jump, let us know. That's the biggest concern of our team ... we don't guard very well inside. With Sasha, he was our best low post defender, so absolutely that could be an issue."
Especially with Kaun now almost certain to miss the Florida showdown on Nov. 25 in Las Vegas.
Giles likely won't be on hand for that game, either, the troubled player almost certain to face some sort of penalty if he ever is allowed to return to practice. Self has not closed the door on Giles, who has a pending court date in a child support case as well as academic and behavioral issues.
"My reports are somewhat limited. I think he's done some things (to take care of issues) I'm probably unaware of," Self said of Giles, who was removed from the team after missing a morning practice Oct. 16. "Right now he is not part of our team. I will not make a final decision, which I thought I could come to pretty soon, until I have a chance to visit with him and check some things out."
Self said he planned to meet with Giles sometime this week. Giles returned from a funeral of a high school teammate in Seattle on Monday morning.
"I hope to have it come to a definite resolution. This week would be a great timetable for me," Self said.
The Kaun injury will have no bearing on his decision whether to bring Giles back, Self said.
"It's a personal issue with C.J. regardless of who else we have on the roster," he said.
Self hopes things settle down soon.
"We've got some decisions to make pretty soon in the next couple days: Do we want to change what we're trying to do? And my initial response would be no," he said. "Why change something for three to six weeks when you are going to go back to it over time? We've got to figure some things out, and maybe have a little bit different approach. I wouldn't call that adversity. I'd call that coaching."
¢ Status quo is fine: Self said KU would not copy Kansas State in the future by holding scrimmages against teams like Marquette. Teams are either allowed to play two exhibition games or one exhibition and one scrimmage, which must be closed to the public.
"Lew Perkins and his staff have worked too hard to raise money to say we're going to lose an opportunity to have a home game," Self said. "A home game means potentially $400,000 to $500,000. One of the great things about exhibition games is getting guys to play under the lights in front of people. There's a lot of benefit both ways."
¢ Morningstar red-shirt?: Self on the possibility of frosh guard Brady Morningstar redshirting: "I'd say there's always a chance. We'll know more after the exhibition games because we can play them in exhibition games now (according to NCAA rules), which is good. He's played pretty well the last three to four days. He certainly has a chance to help us."