Notes: Injury woes continue
Stanford's men's basketball team lost another key player to injury on Monday when starting point guard Robert Cartwright suffered a compound fracture in his arm after falling awkwardly during practice.
The Cardinal were already down starting shooting guard Marcus Allen, backup point guard Malcolm Allen and senior post Grant Verhoeven l, although those players could return sometime in the next few months. (Malcolm is expected back sooner.)
"We watched him just drive to the basket, a routine play," Stanford head coach Johnny Dawkins said. "(He) lands funny."
There's no timeline for Cartwright's return, though it's clear the injury was a serious one. He'll be re-evaluated later in the week.
"We'll have to wait and see," Dawkins said. "I'll probably know more in a few days as to what's going on. I was with him last night in the hospital and it's devastating... You make a routine drive to the basket and lose balance and go down and you land wrong. That's how fragile our sport is."
Given the sudden and severe nature of Cartwrights injury, Stanford has yet to formulate a concrete plan (or had yet to at the time of Dawkins' press conference on Tuesday) for the point guard position moving forward.
"With everything that's been going on with that I haven't had a chance to really spend time," Dawkins said. "I was with him last night, I was with him at the hospital this morning. I haven't had a chance to really think about what we're going to do at the position. We're going to meet as a team today and discuss what happened with him because it was a tough fall and we're going to take some action going forward from there. There are options for us - guys like Christian Sanders, guys like Malcolm Allen, guys like Cameron Walker. These guys are guys that could potentially help at that role. But Rob is going to be missed. He was the guy this year that was going to lead us. It's just tough to take that type of fall before you can even play your first (game of the) year."
The good news for Stanford is that their other injured players - the Allen twins and post Grant Verhoeven - should return at some point before the new calendar year.
Marcus Allen, who has been out with a stress fracture in his foot, is on track to return before the start of Pac-12 play.
"He's still recovering," Dawkins said. "I'm not sure how many weeks he's out now. He's getting closer to a full recovery. I just don't know the exact date that will be. It won't be any longer than December based on how he's recovering right now but I don't have an exact timetable on when he'll return."
Grant Verhoeven, who has also been battling a stress fracture in his foot (heel area), could return around the same time. Verhoeven initially injured his heel last spring - he sat out for 16 weeks, but the injury flared up a few days after he returned to action.
"(He's) also getting closer," Dawkins said. "I'm not sure of the exact timetable with Grant as well. He had a setback at the end of the summer. We want to make sure that he doesn't have a setback again so just making sure that he comes along and is ready to go. But he's excited to get back - he's moving well, he's working. I think their timetables will be somewhat similar based on where they are in the process, I just couldn't give you an exact date."
Malcolm Allen should be the first of Stanford's injured quartet to be fully cleared. He was hurt on the Cardinal's trip to Italy but is not far away from being back to full strength.
"Malcolm's a little ahead of those guys," Dawkins said. "I would anticipate Malcolm coming back a little sooner. He's doing a little more on the court than those guys are doing right now. His return I think will be faster than both Marcus and Grant's."
This offseason wasn't the first time Stanford has been bitten by the injury bug. They've had several players go down with various ailments over the past few years.
The Cardinal conducted a thorough review into all corners of their health program this offseason to try and identify any systemic issues with injuries.
"We went through (and took) an in-depth look at what was going on," Dawkins said, "What are we doing different from different program? When it came down to it, there were not many things that we were doing any different. Even since I've been here, I've been adjusting what we do pretty much since my very first year here. You look at what we did when I first arrived to what we do now, it's less. Right now we're probably three, four hours under for the week (of what the NCAA allows) of what we're doing in practice times. So we have a lot of extra time based on maybe how some programs would be doing it this time of year because this is like a training camp time before you start the season.
"Probably our most hours are going to be now and you're going to chop them down as you move through the season. We feel that we've been doing a pretty good job with that. Some of the falls that guys have taken or some of the things that have happened - I'm looking at it myself like, 'Wow.' But it's part of the game and it's unfortunate. No one wants to see someone get injured and surely the player doesn't want to get injured. It's just one of those things that kind of happens and you have to be able to have the kids understand hey, get healthy and try to move forward, stay positive. We're going to be with you."
"From top to bottom we looked at OK, how are we training our guys. We looked at strength and conditioning, We looked at nutrition. We looked at nutrition with basic vitamins - are we deficient in certain areas? If we are, let's try to address those issues. We've tried to look at everything that we could to try to help prevent it. And the thing I've come up with is I think everybody is working, everybody is on the same page. And when you see that you realize that it could be a function of sometimes it's part of our game. And it's an unfortunate part of our game and that's what's happened."
The Cardinal's injuries could open the door for the program's highly touted trio of true freshmen to make an early impact. The Cardinal's 2015 recruiting class, a consensus top-25 group, includes versatile guard/forward Cameron Walker, wing Marcus Sheffield and post Josh Sharma.
"The freshmen are coming along," Dawkins said. "They've also shown moments to where they can help. and that's exciting. Now it's a matter of them just gaining confidence and gaining some consistency of play. But the one thing about them all, they all have a good feel for the game. They all present different challenges with their length at the guard spot or even at the center spot that we find appealing to our team because of the way we play. I think they all could have an opportunity to help us as the year progresses, especially as it starts to slow down for them. As freshmen right now, so many things are coming at them. Another month or so, another month-and-a-half, two months, I think things will start to slow down, nothing new will be added too much to our system so they'll be able to really focus in and really find the consistency that they're looking or and we're looking for from them."
While both Walker and Sheffield enjoyed productive high school careers and senior seasons, Sharma's final season of high school basketball was not impressive from a statistical perspective. He got hurt early in the year and averaged only 5.8 points and 3.9 rebounds a game.
Nonetheless, Sharma has shown why he was such a highly recruited player - despite the lack of gaudy numbers - thus far on The Farm.
"We're excited about Josh," Dawkins said. "Not only is he seven feet, we like his mobility. He can get up and down the floor with perimeter players. He moves very well .He really protects the rim. He just has to bet bigger and stronger but he has all the physical tools to be as good as he wants to be in this game. I think it was a really good recruit for us and I think he's going to help our program in the future."