Kansas State basketball coach Bruce Weber provided some clarity on Dean Wade’s foot injury Tuesday.
“It’s a tendon in his foot,” Weber said. “He had a slight tear. It’s just a freak thing. If you go back and watch it, he shot a jump shot and landed on his foot just like you always do. He backed up a step and all of a sudden he was in extreme pain.”
Wade, a senior forward and the Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year, crumpled to the ground when he sustained the injury in his right foot during a game against Georgia State on Saturday. He left the court and needed crutches to walk to the locker room.
The severity of his injury was originally unknown. K-State sent out a news release on Sunday simply stating that Wade would be out indefinitely.
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Weber still isn’t sure what Wade’s recovery time will be, but he does think he will be able to return this season.
“We’ve been told it could be three or four weeks,” Weber said. “It could be eight weeks. It’s different for every person. We just have to hope and pray that the pain goes down, the swelling goes down. Then they can get going on rehab. We hope he’s back sooner rather than later.”
One thing is for sure: K-State will have to play its next game against Southern Mississippi on Wednesday at Bramlage Coliseum without its best all-around player.
Wade was averaging 13.6 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists.
The Wildcats will need to find creative ways to replace those statistics, as well as his on-court leadership. That won’t be easy, but they have been here before.
When K-State advanced to the Elite Eight of last season’s NCAA Tournament, it did so largely without Wade, who missed all but eight minutes of postseason action because of a stress fracture in his left foot.
Weber went to a small lineup without Wade and the change paid big dividends. The Wildcats reeled off wins over Creighton, Maryland-Baltimore County and Kentucky before falling to Loyola Chicago one game short of the Final Four.
Expect Cartier Diarra to move into the starting lineup and the Wildcats to play four guards.
“It’s upsetting. He’s a big part of our team. But it’s not something new,” Diarra said. “We have been in the NCAA Tournament without him. It’s just adversity we need to overcome. It’s a chance for other guys to step up and show what they are capable of.”
K-State’s defense improved last year without Wade on the floor, but its offense took a step back. He is by far the most efficient scorer and top shooter on the roster. He is also the team’s leading rebounder by a significant margin.
Makol Mawien, Austin Trice and Levi Stockard will need to replace his production inside. But everyone will need to step up their game.
“We all rallied together,” junior wing Xavier Sneed said. “We know we have to play for our brother.”
Weber is confident K-State can continue to win games while Wade recovers from his injury, but the Wildcats will have less margin for error than usual.
In particular, Weber says they can’t turn the ball over more than a dozen times and expect to win without Wade. It will also be more important for key players to avoid foul trouble.
Mike McGuirl and Mawien stepped up big last season in Wade’s absence. Who will do the same this time around?
Weber feels bad for Wade, a player he describes as “a good young man and a perfect example of what a college athlete should be.” His season was cut short last year, and now he has to miss games a senior.
But he’s also counting on K-State’s next man up to play well for however long Wade is out.
“Things happen for a reason in life,” Weber said. “He has to be tough and so do we. It made our team come together last year. Now we will see if we can do it again.”