Feb. 7, 2007
SEATTLE - University of Washington junior Joel Smith, who has been sidelined the entire season with a foot injury, will preserve a year of eligibility by claiming red-shirt status for the 2006-07 campaign, Coach Lorenzo Romar announced Wednesday.
The 6-foot-4, 210-pound guard suffered a stress fracture in his right foot that was discovered during preseason practice. Smith was expected to resume playing on Nov. 24 against Eastern Washington, but he fractured another bone in the same foot during a Nov. 21 practice.
Smith began practicing again on Monday, Feb. 5. He met with Coach Romar Tuesday evening and decided to utilize his red-shirt year instead of re-joining the Huskies for their final eight regular-season games.
"It was a good decision for me and for the team. I want to be able to come back 100 percent and help my team to the fullest; not come back 70 percent or whatever percent I'm at now," Smith explained. "I want to help the team out in a lot of different ways and right now I don't feel like I'm capable of doing that.
"It really irks me to know that I can't get out there and play. I'm a team player, so to not be able to get out there and help my team to the fullest really upsets me."
A two-year letterman, Smith entered the 2006-07 season with more game experience than anyone on the UW roster. He played 66 career games, helping the Huskies advance to the Sweet 16 in each of his first two years.
Smith averaged 3.7 points and 2.1 rebounds last season as a sophomore. He was named an honorable mention selection to the 2005 All-Pac-10 Freshman Team after scoring 4.6 points per game.
"Joel wants to play. He wants to come out here and help us," Romar said. "If you watch him in practice, he won't make every shot. But you can see how he can help us. He knows what we're doing. You can just see the experience. I think he understands that he knows he can help us, but he's looking at the big picture."
Smith is expected to continue practicing with the team and will return to game action in 2007-08 as a red-shirt junior. He is a native of Lompoc, Calif. and attended Lompoc High School before completing his high school career at Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, N.H.
Washington has a 14-8 record and resides in eighth place in the Pac-10 standings with a 4-7 conference mark. The Huskies begin a three-game homestand, Thursday, Feb. 8 against California. Tip-off is 7:30 p.m. at Bank of America Arena.