Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer
Paul Aiken / Staff Photographer
After its first practice since Saturday’s home loss against Washington, the best news for the struggling Colorado men’s basketball team is that point guard McKinley Wright is likely to return at some point this season.
The status of senior guard Namon Wright, however, remains murky. And while Deleon Brown’s status was clarified, he won’t be helping the Buffaloes’ lagging backcourt depth any time soon.
McKinley Wright may not be back for Sunday’s road date at Utah (4 p.m., ESPNU) but head coach Tad Boyle expressed optimism CU’s leading scorer and undisputed floor general didn’t suffer a season-ending setback when he left the UW game in the first half with a left shoulder injury.
Namon Wright remains day-to-day due to a foot injury, while Boyle took back his previous statements regarding the potential of a February return for the academically ineligible Brown, who has played his final game of the 2018-19 season.
“It’s still sore, obviously, so we’ll kind of get a feel as the week goes what the prognosis is and how long he’ll be out,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said about McKinley Wright. “It doesn’t feel like it’s a season-ending thing, so that’s good news. But we need to get his inflammation down and the soreness out. It gets better every day, which is a good thing. We’re cautiously optimistic.
“It’s not worse. But it’s definitely more aggravated.”
Wright said he had been playing with a partially torn labrum in his left shoulder, an injury he incurred during the Buffs’ first practice after the holidays. He played through the initial injury for two games in Arizona and again in last week’s home win against Washington State, but he exited the loss against the Huskies with 8 minutes, 8 seconds remaining in the first half after aggravating the same shoulder while battling for rebounding position in the lane.
On Tuesday, Wright said he suffered a dislocated shoulder but reiterated his coach’s belief that his return is a matter of when, not if. Wright leads the Buffs with 12.9 points a game and 5.3 assists per game, though his assist-to-turnover ratio has dropped from 1.86 last year to 1.56 this year.
“I went up for a rebound and just felt it pop out. It was some of the worst pain I’ve been in,” McKinley Wright said. “It feels pretty good right now. At that moment, it popped out of place, that had never happened to me. It was more shock than pain. I feel good today. I’ll definitely be back this season. I’m just taking it day-by-day, getting this treatment, taking my medicine, just trying to get back healthy. I’ll brace it up the rest of the season. Hopefully this brace can keep it stable so I can do what I’m able to do.”
Namon Wright, the Buffs only senior, has missed the past three games due to a foot injury and didn’t practice Tuesday. Wright was a force off the bench early in the season for the Buffs, averaging 13.3 points while shooting 50 percent (9-for-18) on 3-pointers. The elder Wright has gone 4-for-16 on 3-pointers since while averaging just five points.
Asked if the foot issue has contributed to the tailing off of Namon Wright’s numbers, Boyle reiterated the injury was a surprise to him after Wright played 20 minutes at Arizona Jan. 3.
“He had two of the best practices of his career maybe leading up to the Arizona game. Played (20) minutes and didn’t tell any coaches it was hurting and didn’t tell the trainer it was hurting,” Boyle said. “But the next day it was hurting and he hasn’t practiced since. I don’t know other than he’s got pain in his foot and he can’t practice. So I have no idea if he’ll be back today or next week or next month. I don’t know.”
As for Brown, Boyle said he got “bad information” regarding a potential comeback this season, clarifying that the junior guard will remain ineligible for the rest of the season. As for Brown’s long-term status with the program, Boyle said that remains “to be determined.”