Shabazz Napier, UConn’s do-it-all combo guard, has missed the past two practices with a left shoulder contusion suffered in Monday’s loss to Louisville.
Napier took a spill with less than four minutes elapsed Monday and struggled from there. His final field goal came with 12:13 remaining in the first half.
A junior guard who has appeared in every game since arriving on campus in 2010, Napier “hopes” to play Saturday versus Pitt.
“I don’t really plan on missing any games,” he said. “I’ve played through a whole bunch of injuries in my life, especially (at UConn). I’m blessed enough for (the injury) not to be in my shooting arm. I’ve got to fight through to help my teammates out.”
Napier has range of motion, but he said the pain is so intense that it’s “hard to sleep some nights.” UConn coach Kevin Ollie moved Friday’s practice, initially scheduled for the morning in Storrs, to 5 p.m. in Pittsburgh to allow Napier more time to recover.
“Hopefully, he’ll practice (Friday) and have a good game on Saturday, but we wanted him to rest it just in case,” Ollie said. “He took a hard fall. We wanted to make sure everything structurally was fine.”
Napier admitted that the shoulder injury affected him versus Louisville, but he declined to use it as an excuse for his 0-for-8 finish.
“That was an awful performance by myself,” Napier said. “I had no leadership. It seemed like I didn’t keep my composure. Everything that I didn’t want to happen, happened.”
If Napier doesn’t feel ready to play Saturday, it doesn’t seem as though he’ll push it.
“I don’t want to re-injure it,” the junior said. “…Looking back, I shouldn’t have played in the second half. It was hurting tremendously…I probably should have just sat out, that could have been enough rest for me. But deep in my mind and soul, I was thinking to myself, ‘I can help my teammates.'”
“But I couldn’t,” Napier continued. “I was sluggish, doing things I normally wouldn’t do. I played so slow and I wasn’t playing with the type of leadership I usually play with.”
Without Napier, it seems Niels Giffey, Omar Calhoun and R.J. Evans would be in line for greater roles. Calhoun, who scored 20 points Monday, would be counted on to handle the ball more.
“It’s how I’m used to playing anyway — with the ball in my hands,” Calhoun said.