Azubuike ankle update for Senior Night game
Kansas senior center Udoka Azubuike has been working seemingly non-stop in rehab in an attempt to strengthen his ankle enough to play meaningful minutes in Wednesday’s Senior Night contest against TCU.
“Every hour pretty much,” Azubuike said Tuesday afternoon, referring to time spent in the trainer’s room since the conclusion of Saturday’s 6258 victory at Kansas State.
The 7-footer from Delta, Nigeria sprained his right ankle in the first half and wound up playing 20 minutes, but not the final six minutes of the narrow victory.
“I’ve been called up several times to go over there. It’s been continuously getting rehab and treatment,” Azubuike said of seeing the trainers.
Azubuike said he truly wants to play, in fact is deter
mined to play in the final game of his college career at Allen Fieldhouse.
“It is my last home game in the fieldhouse. I really want to play. Just what I’ve been through the past four years,” said Azubuike, who missed large portions of two of his four seasons because of injury.
“I want to play,” he repeated, “if my ankle lets me.”
KU coach Bill Self, whose No. 1-ranked Jayhawks (26-3, 15-1) can wrap up at least a share of the Big 12 regular-season title with a win over TCU (16-13, 7-9) in the 7 p.m. tipoff, understands full well Azubuike is planning on playing.
“He definitely wants to. I don’t know if he will or not,” Self said. “It depends on how things go today and how sore he is tomorrow. He’s trying. He’s in treatment four or five times a day, doing everything he’s supposed to do.
“It’s one thing to want to play,” Self added, “it’s another to want to play on Senior Night. I know he’ll do everything he can to get out there.”
If Azubuike can’t play, sophomore David McCormack will take his place at the 5-spot.
“We’ll go from a team not very big now, to a tiny team,” Self said. Backup forward Silvio De Sousa’s 12-game suspension will last one more game. He’ll be eligible to play Saturday at Texas Tech.
“David has some size, then you’d play all guards,” Self added.
Even if he doesn’t play,
Azubuike will be a part of Wednesday’s Senior Night festivities. His host family from Florida will attend the contest and be introduced with Azubuike before the game along with senior guard Isaiah Moss and his parents, who will be in town from Chicago for the game.
Azubuike and Moss will speak to the fans after the contest.
“I am still thinking about it,” Azubuike said of his speech. I am not really big in talking to lots of people. I’m still getting it down.
“It has been fast. It’s been up and down journey,” he added of his career, which he’ll surely address in his speech, which Self kiddingly said he’s limited to “20 minutes.”
“There’s been good times and bad times. Overall it has been probably the best decision I’ve made coming to Kansas. I’ve enjoyed it,” Azubuike said.
He wants to go out as a member of a 2019-20 league championship team, which KU can become with a win Wednesday.
“It’s be special, not just for me but the fans, everybody who played at Kansas. It would mean a lot,” Azubuike said. “We didn’t win last year (after string of 14 straight league crowns). To clinch a share of it at the fieldhouse on Senior Night would really mean a lot.”