Kamau Stokes and Dean Wade are expected to play for Kansas State when the Wildcats host Oklahoma State on Saturday, but it could be a while before they are deemed healthy enough to practice between games.
K-State basketball coach Bruce Weber is taking a cautious approach with both seniors as they deal with nagging foot injuries.
“I don’t know how much improvement we can get in practice, but it is what it is,” Weber said Thursday. “I would rather have Dean in the games than Dean in practice.”
The same goes for Stokes, K-State’s starting point guard.
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“He won’t practice either,” Weber said.
Both Stokes and Wade played for the Wildcats in their last game, a 65-51 victory at West Virginia, and looked good doing so. Wade, the Preseason Big 12 Player of the Year, had 10 points and six rebounds in 32 minutes. Stokes finished with seven points and three assists in 36 minutes.
But Weber wasn’t sure if either of them would play when the team arrived at WVU Coliseum. They were game-time decisions.
Wade is dealing with soreness in his right foot and Weber said Stokes is battling a toe injury.
Stokes didn’t look far away from full strength, but Wade was obviously hobbled. The forward didn’t attack the basket like he usually does and spent most of his time on the perimeter as a shooter. He played the same way when K-State lost at home to Iowa State last weekend and his foot injury became public.
That changed the way K-State flowed on offense, but it certainly beat the alternative.
“In some ways you can use him as a decoy,” Weber said. “We play through him, and everyone worries about him. You feed him in the post and they double him and he makes the right pass, we get it moving and we are really good. Get it to him on the perimeter and he can get by the big guy and make somebody else help. He moves the ball so well. When he is a ball-mover it really helps us.”
As the Wildcats look to remain on top of the Big 12 standings with two of their seniors missing practice, they hope to welcome back a key reserve in the coming weeks.
Cartier Diarra, who has missed the past three games with a broken finger on his shooting hand, began exercising again on Wednesday. He can’t do much with the basketball right now, but he is dribbling and practicing layups with his right hand.
“Right now I am trying to improve his right hand and get something out of it,” Weber said. “Maybe he will make right-handed layups or free throws and get something out of it.”
Diarra is scheduled for a checkup next week and if all goes well, Weber said, he could start working his way back into basketball shape soon after. There’s a chance he could return to the lineup in time for the Big 12 Tournament.
Until then, Weber may need to get creative to help the Wildcats make it through their practice schedule.