By Gregg Bell
UW Director of Writing
SEATTLE – Jernard Jarreau is doing his best to stand tall while absorbing Wednesday’s news that he has a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee and is out for this season.
At 6 feet 10, that’s saying something.
“He’s trying to be brave. He’s trying to have a good attitude about it,” Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar said Wednesday afternoon. “But you know he’s hurting inside.”
The surging, 6-foot-10 forward will have reconstructive surgery soon. His right knee popped 95 seconds into Sunday night’s season-opening win over Seattle University. The redshirt sophomore faces the eight-to-12 month rehabilitation process that should have him back for the start of the 2014-15 season.
Jarreau got hurt on his plant step taking off for a layup at the end of his steal and fast break 95 seconds into Sunday’s night opener. A slight nudge, which Romar and most others didn’t see as malicious at all, by Seattle U.’s sprinting Isiah Umipig caused Jarreau to change his step just before he planted for his jump. Romar likened the injury to having slipped on a patch of ice, before Jarreau crashed to the floor.
“It didn’t look good,” Romar said. “The fall was because his ACL basically popped. … In fact, if his ACL hadn’t torn he probably wouldn’t have fallen.”
An MRI on Tuesday confirmed the ACL tear.
Romar said because of UW Medicine’s and Husky trainers’ outstanding experience and track record in getting Huskies back from ACL tears – recently graduated point guard Abdul Gaddy, women’s basketball’s Katie Collier, football running back Deontae Cooper, three times in three years – he has little doubt Jarreau will be back not only for next season but in time for the start of preseason practice at the beginning of October 2014.
Romar said Gaddy, who was back on the court after 9½ months following tears of his ACL and his lateral collateral ligament in January 2011, has already talked to Jarreau.
The fact Romar and the Huskies scheduled their Dec. 17 game at Tulane specifically so Jarreau, a native of New Orleans, could have a homecoming only adds to the cruel turn of fortunes for the UW player Romar said last week had improved the most since last season.
His injury coupled with the loss until mid to late December of rugged small forward Desmond Simmons leave the Huskies facing a stern, immediate test of their new depth inside.
Romar said power forward Perris Blackwell has been cleared to play Thursday night against UC-Irvine in the opening game of the 2K Sports Classic at Alaska Airlines Arena (8 p.m., Pac-12 Networks TV, Washington IMG College radio). He missed the opener with a concussion he sustained while getting 21 points and nine rebounds in last Wednesday’s exhibition win over Central Washington. The transfer from San Francisco will be making his UW debut.
Shawn Kemp Jr. is only, in Romar’s estimation, at about 80-to-85 percent of full health after an illness set him back all October. Yet he is likely to start with Blackwell in the front court against UC-Irvine. C.J. Wilcox, Nigel Williams-Goss and Andrew Andrews are expected to start as guards.
Gilles Dierickx, another newly eligible transfer from Florida International, played only 12 minutes Sunday. The 7-foot sophomore from Belgium, who has shown a deft passing skill plus the willingness to bang inside, is probably going to have to play more than a dozen minutes against UC-Irvine.
The Anteaters have played four guys 6-10 or taller through two games, an overtime loss to Fresno State and Tuesday’s five-point loss at Pacific. That includes 7-6 Mamadou N’Diaye and 7-2 Ioannis Dimakopoulos.
Then again, Romar could go small against Irvine — though against that roster even normal lineups would be small. The Huskies employed four and sometimes even five guards at a time against Seattle U., when Romar said “guys were learning positions on the fly.”
One was leading scorer Wilcox. He was the “four,” a de facto power forward, in UW’s high-post sets. Freshmen guards Mike Anderson (32 minutes) and Darin Johnson (29 minutes) got mega time for their first college games, and may get similar time Thursday based on how effective they were in the opener.
Romar said the 6-5 Anderson showed the toughness and versatility to play inside if need be, so the Huskies may be doing more four-guard lineups over the next month until Simmons gets back.
Though he has already redshirted, Jarreau will have the opportunity to apply through the Huskies’ medical staff for a medical-hardship waiver to get back eligibility for this lost season.
NCAA Bylaw 14.2.4 states “a student-athlete may be granted an additional year of competition by the conference or the Committee on Student-Athlete Reinstatement for reasons of ‘hardship.’ Hardship is defined as an incapacity resulting from an injury or illness that has occurred under all of the following conditions:
- The incapacitating injury or illness occurs in one of the four seasons of intercollegiate competition …
- … the injury results in incapacity to compete for the remainder of that playing season;
- In team sports, the injury or illness occurs when the student-athlete has not participated in more than three contests or dates of competition (whichever is applicable to that sport) or 30 percent (whichever number is greater) of the institution’s scheduled or completed contests or dates of competition in his or her sport.”
Jarreau, obviously, competed in just one game, and only 95 seconds of it.
The bylaw goes on to say that the medical-hardship waiver request is administered by the player’s conference. So Jarreau and UW would have to petition the Pac-12 to get back this lost year of eligibility. Approvals are given on a case-by-case basis, and if the conference denies the request it can go on to the NCAA’s Committee on Student-Athlete Reinstatement for review.
The Huskies have had zero luck in scheduling recent homecoming games for far-flung players.
In November 2011 Scott Suggs, from Washington, Mo., missed the game Romar had scheduled at nearby Saint Louis because of a stress fracture in his foot.
In the summer of 2012 the Huskies went to Dakar, Senegal, to see the home of senior center Aziz N’Diaye and play a preseason exhibition game against a local team there. But the game was cancelled when the ceiling of the gym where it was to be played in Dakar leaked from heavy rains — though N’Diaye and the Huskies still got to conduct a basketball clinic to Senegalese youth.