One member of Wichita State’s trio of injured starters won’t play again this season. The other two are getting closer to their returns, although no dates are certain.
Sophomore Evan Wessel will undergo season-ending surgery on his broken right pinky finger. Senior Carl Hall, recovering from a broken right thumb, is conditioning and doing limited shooting. He is unsure when he will play again.
Hall has missed five games since injuring his thumb in practice. He got the cast off last week and the thumb is swollen and sore.
“I’m thinking the end of the month,” he said. “It might be two weeks, depending on how it’s feeling. It’s getting better every day.”
He would love to play in next week’s games against Illinois State (Jan. 16) and No. 13 Creighton (Jan. 19).
“I might try to surprise people and come back and play those games,” he said. “Sneak up on them.”
In his current condition, however, playing in a week seems optimistic. Hall is hopeful the thumb will improve quickly.
“A lot of therapy, trying to get the strength back,” Hall said. “I’m still not able to grip the ball. I threw a few right-handed hooks, just to see how it feels. It still hurts when I shoot jump shots.”
Wessel, out seven games, tried to play with the injury. He had until the halfway point of the season (Sunday’s game at Evansville) to preserve his case for a medical hardship season. With no improvement, he decided surgery made sense.
“I tried to go with it, tried to get back without having surgery until the end of the season,” he said. “But it’s not getting to where I can play and be effective.”
Wessel said he plans to apply for a medical hardship, a process that will start after this season.
Redshirt freshman guard Ron Baker, out with a stress fracture in his left foot, remains on track to get off crutches on Jan. 29. His return will be determined by how the foot responds to conditioning and practice. He has missed five games.
“It could be a week, it could be six weeks,” Baker said.
Hall, a 6-foot-8 forward, is No. 23 WSU’s leading scorer (13.9) and rebounder (7.6). Wessel, a 6-5 guard, averaged 5.5 points in eight starts and made 11 of 24 three-pointers. Baker, a 6-foot-3 guard, averages 7.3 points. His average of 25.1 minutes ranks second behind Hall.
WSU coach Gregg Marshall isn’t worried about working the injured players back into the rotation.
“I’m going to look at it as a positive, without a doubt, when it happens, and I think our players will, too,” he said. “I think it just makes us better down the stretch. I hope we’re still in a very strong position when that day does come.”