Shawn Kemp Jr.’s career at Washington may be over. It’s not certain he can play in the Pac-12 Tournament next Wednesday at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas.
You want the good news or bad news first, Husky fans?
OK, then, star sophomore guard Nigel Williams-Goss, who sat out the last game because of a sprained left calf, returned to practice this week. He still complains of soreness, but expects to play Thursday when the Washington men’s basketball team (15-13, 4-12 Pac-12) hosts Colorado (13-15, 6-10) at 6 p.m. at Alaska Airlines Arena.
Colorado @ UW, 6 p.m., Fox Sports 1
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Shawn Kemp Jr., who missed the past two games due to lingering effects from a concussion, also returned to workouts early this week.
Ready for the bad news?
Kemp strained his right calf Monday during a noncontact conditioning drill and will not play Thursday. Making matters worse, the 6-foot-9 senior forward is doubtful for Saturday’s regular-season finale against No. 13 Utah.
And here’s the kicker — Kemp’s career at Washington may be over. The Huskies open the Pac-12 tournament next Wednesday at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, and a loss for UW, which has dropped nine of its past 10 games, would likely end a disappointing season.
“You have to be concerned if you come back too fast,” coach Lorenzo Romar said when asked about Kemp’s recovery. “One quick movement and it’ll start all over. So we’ll see how he feels. But definitely he will be out (Thursday).”
Romar is usually a cockeyed optimist who is quick to confront a crisis with a tale of triumph and glory from previous UW teams.
These days he’s been a little more pragmatic.
Due to injuries and the dismissal of record-setting shot-blocker Robert Upshaw on Jan. 26, Washington is down to eight healthy scholarship players and two players taller than 6-7.
The lack of depth along the front line is a big reason for UW’s demise. Opponents have humbled the Huskies inside while averaging 41.5 points in the paint in the past eight games.
“It’s not something you’re really able to prepare for and say, ‘OK, when all of this happens we’re going to be ready because we got this Plan B,’ ” Romar said about the small supply of big men. “It just doesn’t happen. It’s very unusual.”
Before last Saturday’s game at USC, Romar delivered a defiant speech and said: “At this point, we just got to go. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves. We just got to go. Got to go work and continue to try to control things that we can control.”
After the Huskies lost 70-55 to the Trojans, he questioned the UW players’ effort and resolve.
During his weekly radio show Monday, Romar said this season has “been the most unique year and challenging year that I’ve ever faced as a head or assistant coach.”
Admittedly, the Huskies’ options are limited — especially inside.
Jernard Jarreau is their only formidable post presence, and the 6-10, 240-pound junior is more comfortable on the perimeter. Meanwhile, junior Gilles Dierickx is their tallest player, but the 7-foot reserve hasn’t been reliable.
The Huskies could start 6-7 freshman forward Donaven Dorsey, who replaced Kemp during last week’s 88-66 loss at UCLA. They could also roll out a four-guard lineup that includes 6-6 reserve Quevyn Winters, who had a breakout performance in the last outing and tallied a career-high 16 points.
“Because of a lack of depth, there’s not a whole lot of things we can do,” Romar said. “At some point, there will be five guards in there on the floor because we have two guys right now that are available that are over (6-7).”
Regardless of who starts, Washington will rely on its fifth lineup in the past five games. “It’s been a challenge for us definitely after Rob left and Jernard got hurt and Shawn had a concussion and then I was out,” Williams-Goss said. “It’s just kind of been a lot for this team to go through.
“ … We’ve kept our heads high and approached every practice as an attempt to get better. Even though the results haven’t been what we wanted, we’ve continued to fight.”