It seems Shabazz Napier (left shoulder contusion) still isn’t 100 percent. But barring anything unforseen, he’ll be in the lineup when UConn hosts Rutgers Sunday at 2 p.m.
Napier was told the pain in his shoulder would go away after two weeks. Sunday will mark the 13th day since the injury, which occurred in the first half against Louisville. The junior guard went through a full practice Friday and did everything except box-out drills Saturday.
He also dunked after practice, so now I believe him.
Some quotes from Napier and UConn coach Kevin Ollie:
*Napier on shoulder: “When I loosen it up, it feels good, but when it goes cold for five minutes, it’s like the pain is just sore. It’s not as bad as it is in the morning, but it affects me sometimes.”
*Napier on frustration of the nagging injury: “At Pittsburgh, I kind of played through it and didn’t play so well, either. It is frustrating, but it’s teaching me to be patient and understanding that my health is important and to make sure that I’m ready to play with my teammates 100 percent. It’s just teaching me how to be patient.”
*Ollie on playing through injuries: “You’re going to have nicks and bruises that you’re going to play through, but of course we’re going to be cautious of not having him out there weak and getting him hurt severely. We’ve got to have a balance and he’s got to understand that if it’s a pain he can play through, it’s just mental and hopefully he can get over it. But we’re going to also listen to (trainer) James Doran and he’s going to give us the opinion on if we can play him or not. I’m going to have him give me that decision, too. If he can go out there and play, I don’t want any excuses.”
*Napier, who had difficulty dribbling with his left hand against Pittsburgh, said he’s been performing two-hand dribbling drills throughout the week to improve his left.