Next week is a big one for Wichita State outfielder Garrett Bayliff. He can catch fly balls and run the bases.
It doesn't sound like much. For Bayliff, it is another step toward proving his right leg is healthy enough to start practice in late January.
"Everything feels really good," he said. "I feel like I could go out and go pretty much 100 percent right now if I wanted to."
Bayliff worked out late Friday afternoon with teammates in the Koch Arena weight room. So did third baseman Erik Harbutz, another Shocker rehabbing from an injury that ruined last season.
Coaches are counting on both to be significant contributors in 2012. Both players say they are confident they will be ready for practice. WSU opens the season on Feb. 17 in the Bobcat Invitational in San Marcos, Texas.
Bayliff started six games last season before he fractured his right fibula and dislocated his ankle sliding into a base. He tried to play this summer with the Santa Barbara (Calif.) Foresters before deciding he wasn't ready. Late in the summer, he developed a bone spur on the ankle that made running painful. He had a second surgery in early September to remove the plate and screws in his leg and clean up scar tissue.
He is moving cautiously with his rehab after the second surgery. He began running about a month ago. Two weeks ago, the doctor cleared him to do lateral running and agility drills. He started hitting three days a week recently. Later this month, he can hit every day and will use the indoor batting cages at Tuttle (Okla.) High during Christmas break.
"My swing actually feels pretty good, but I've still got a long way to go," he said.
Next week, he plans to sprint the bases and chase fly balls in WSU's indoor practice facility.
"My last appointment, they cleared to do anything I want, I just have to ease into everything," he said. "My rehab program has been a lot more structured this time around."
Harbutz is recovering from April shoulder surgery that forced him to miss most of 2011 after he tore his right labrum. He is throwing three times a week at about 95 percent of full speed.
"No pain, whatsoever, throwing," he said. "I've been hitting quite a bit. I expect to be 100 percent, first practice."
Inside the arc — In 2009, the NCAA instructed referees to call blocking fouls on help-side defenders who stood in an unmarked area under the basket in an attempt to draw a charge.
This season, much to the relief of coaches, the NCAA mandated a painted arc which extends three feet from the basket. A secondary defender must be outside of that area to draw a charge.
"The rule was so vague," WSU coach Gregg Marshall said. "It was a joke. If you're going to have a rule like that, why wouldn't you put a marking on the rule?"
The Shockers say the change helps the offense by creating more blocking calls. Defenders must move more quickly to get to the right spot when helping a teammate beaten by a dribbler.
"If you're late, you're going to be in the arc," WSU senior guard David Kyles said.
Forward Carl Hall said, "You've got to be more aware of where the ball is, because you know you can't come late. Before he's coming, you have to already be there, be set, and you have to watch because if you're inside by an inch, it's a block."
The NCAA adopted the arc in an attempt to help scorers and reduce collisions under the basket. The primary (on the ball) defender can still take a charge inside the arc. The secondary defender can draw a foul if the offensive player uses his arm to push off.
Wooden's schools face off — Indiana State is largely known for being Larry Bird's school.
John Wooden also is part of its basketball history. He coached two seasons (1946-47 and 1947-48) in Terre Haute.
The Wooden connection is paying off for Indiana State with a game to open remodeled Pauley Pavilion against UCLA on Nov. 9, 2012.
UCLA, of course, is largely known for being Wooden's school. He won 10 NCAA titles as coach in 27 seasons after coming to Los Angeles from Indiana.
Pauley Pavilion, opened in 1965, is undergoing a $136 million renovation. The Bruins are playing at the L.A. Sports Arena and the Honda Center this season.
Ugly dogs — Bad times for Southern Illinois basketball are getting worse. The Salukis are 1-4 entering today's game at Western Michigan. Their power rating (RPI) ranks them No. 328 with a schedule strength ranked No. 276.
The losses include a 64-63 defeat to NCAA Division II Ohio Dominican. The lone victory is over Chicago State.
The statistics are bad, even for bad teams.
SIU is shooting 36 percent from the field and 20.7 percent (12 of 58) from three-point range, despite playing four games at home. It has 43 assists and 79 turnovers.
The Salukis appear headed for their third losing season in the past four. Since going to the Sweet 16 in 2007, coach Chris Lowery is 60-71.
Worth noting — Gold won the track and field intrasquad meet on Friday at the Heskett Center. Audacia Moore won the women's 60-meter dash, 150-meter dash and the triple jump. Brandon Childs won the men's 60, long jump and high jump.... WSU and Sunflower Travel are offering a trip to Hawaii for baseball games beginning Feb. 28. For information call Devin Hansen at 316-634-1700.