Rodrick Stewart slipped on a wet spot attempting a dunk during Friday’s open practice and fractured his right knee cap. He will have surgery when he returns to Lawrence after the tournament.
Stewart was down on the floor for several minutes before being carried
off the court on a golf cart. After seeing the doctor, he went back to
the team hotel to rest. With their teammate hurting, it was a subdued
KU locker room afterwards.
“It downed it (mood) a lot,” said sophomore forward
Darrell Arthur. “I didn’t really see what happened
or how he did it, but I know he fractured his knee. We’re
just going to try to do what we have to do to make him comfortable and
feel good, and just try to help him as quick as possible.
“Oh man, it’s going to be tough for him.
He’s a senior, too. We’re just going to try to
surround him with our love. It’s going to give us a lot of
motivation. We’re going to try to do it for him and his
family, and do it for the team and just play hard.”
This has been a tough NCAA tournament for Stewart. He suffered a case
of tonsillitis in Omaha in the first two rounds, and did not even
attend the UNLV game in the second round. Stewart scored two points in
eight minutes against Portland State in the opening round, and then
played a minute against Villanova in the Sweet 16.
He said in the locker room after KU beat Davidson in the Elite Eight
that he was close to feeling 100 percent.
After transferring from USC after his freshman year,
Stewart’s college career has come to an end. He had his best
year as a Jayhawk this season, averaging 2.8 points in 11.6 minutes per
game, while shooting a career-high 49.3 percent from the field. He also
tied a career high with 2.2 rebounds per game.
Stewart started nine games this season.
KU coach Bill Self was shook hard by the injury and was planning on
visiting with Stewart again back at the hotel.
“I’m disappointed, certainly hurt for
him,” Self said. “Guys practice their whole life to
get to the Final Four. That’s been taken away from him. ...
The doctor said he caught a break in that it could have been worse with
the type of injury he just had, but the x-ray shows that
he’ll heal up fine. It’s going to be a process for
The KU players had Stewart in their thoughts.
“We’re keeping him Rod in our prayers,”
said senior Russell Robinson.
“Rod worked so hard to get to this point,” added
sophomore Sherron Collins. “He’s been through a lot
of stuff his whole career, especially this year. It sucks for him to go
out like this, not even to be able to participate in the Final Four.
It’s just another lump we got to get over. But now
it’s for Rod. (We) just got to come out (and) use it like an
Indeed, they will.
“He knows we got his back,” said junior Mario Chalmers.
Senior Jeremy Case will continue to be the fifth guard in
KU’s rotation on Saturday.
“I’m just going to try to prepare for the game the
way I always have,” Case said. “My role is still
the same. I’m not going to change anything. Coach said
whenever he needs me, he’s going to put me in, so
I’ll be ready.”
So will his teammates.
“It is disappointing to have this happen,” said
junior Brandon Rush. “It is bringing us down right now, but
we will have to rise above it and go out tomorrow and play our
And they’ll play for their injured teammate, whom Self said
should be in the Alamodome on Saturday cheering for the Jayhawks. At
Media Day back in October, Stewart talked about what it would mean to
win the national championship.
“It would definitely mean a lot to me and to all of the
seniors,” Stewart said. “That is something that you
are going to take with you the rest of your life. Win or lose, we are
going to enjoy all of the experiences we have. But to win a national
championship and be in that group that took home the whole thing would
be really special."
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