Kansas head coach Bill Self has stressed that the main concept as his team nears postseason play is not seeding, rather overall health and the team's play. Rather than becoming over zealous in chasing a potential number one seed in this month's NCAA Tournament, he will air on the side of caution, by shutting freshman center Joel Embiid down for the remainder of the regular season after he reactivated a back injury in Saturday night's 72-65 loss at Oklahoma State.
"Joel re-aggravated a spot in his lower back that he was dealing with a few weeks ago," Self said in a statement. "We had another MRI performed. We've also spoken with experts with this particular injury and have been told the same thing we were told before, rest is the best remedy."
"If the discomfort ceases, he should be able to practice on Monday and participate in the Big 12 Championship. If he's still having symptoms of tightness and soreness, then we will look at sitting him longer through the postseason conference tournament but there is no reason why he should not be feeling much better by the NCAA Tournament. The doctors feel that amount of time off should do him wonders for how he is feeling."
Embiid turned in back to back double-doubles in the two games prior to the Oklahoma State game and his presence as a shot blocker has improved the Kansas defense overall and has them at times looking like they did a year ago, when Jeff Withey controlled the paint. As of now, there seems to be no worries as to his recovery and outlook.
"It should not be an injury that keeps him out for the rest of the season," Self said. "Last time he was off five days and that worked very nicely for him and he was able to come back and be 100 percent."
Senior forward Tarik Black will return to the starting lineup in Embiid's absence. Black started the first several games of the season before Embiid's rapid emergence which prompted his insertion into the starting lineup in December.