If it looks like Nebraska senior forward Leslee Smith has been having trouble with his surgically repaired knee, well, it’s because Smith has been having trouble with his surgically repaired knee.
Smith played only 5 minutes in the Nebraska men’s basketball team’s last game, an 81-57 loss Thursday at Ohio State, and didn’t play in the second half.
Nebraska coach Tim Miles, speaking on Monday’s Big Ten coaches teleconference, said Smith had “considerable swelling” after the Huskers’ Feb. 22 loss to Iowa, and that it took a couple of days for the swelling to subside.
“(Sunday), you could see it was sore again in practice,” Miles said. “I’ve got to watch that with him, because I don’t want to make it any worse. The most likely thing would be to limit him in practice, but he and I are going to meet, too, and talk about his knee and see where he’s at, see how we can handle that the best way we can.”
Smith, who suffered a torn ACL last summer and had surgery July 3, missed the first half of the season. His first game was Jan. 8 against Rutgers, when he played 13 minutes. His 5 minutes at Ohio State were his fewest since he also played 5 minutes in a Feb. 7 loss at Penn State.
Smith started at Ohio State but committed two early turnovers on consecutive possessions, both leading to Buckeye fast-break scores, and was noticeably slow running down the court each time.
Miles replaced Smith after the second turnover, with 16:53 remaining, then brought him back into the lineup with 8:24 left. Smith played a couple of minutes, then departed at the 6:22 mark and never returned.
Smith is averaging 3.1 points and 2.4 rebounds, a year after averaging 5.4 points and 4.8 rebounds as Nebraska’s top post player off the bench.
Ban still in effect
Nebraska players remain off-limits to their locker room at the Hendricks Training Complex, and to the media.
Miles instituted both bans after a 74-46 home loss to Iowa, calling it a “gut check” and saying he wanted players to reflect on what it means to play basketball for Nebraska.
The Huskers, who play at Illinois on Wednesday, are coming off their second bye weekend of the season. Miles gave the team off Friday and Saturday, had a lengthy practice Sunday and planned shortened practices Monday and Tuesday.
Miles said he’s been focusing on basic fundamentals on defense after his team’s two worst defensive showings in their last two games, against Ohio State and Iowa.
Nebraska’s game at Illinois doesn’t tip off until 9 p.m., the latest start Miles can remember for any of his teams.
“It’s almost my bedtime,” Miles said. “If I can make it through halftime, I think we’ll be in good shape.”
The reason for the late start — not surprisingly — is television. The game is the third of a tripleheader on BTN, which will air Ohio State at Penn State at 5 p.m. and Purdue at Michigan State at 7 p.m.
Miles isn’t in favor of the mid-week late tip-off, but “because I can’t control it — and I truly can’t … I just go with the flow.”
By the time Nebraska returns to Lincoln after the game, Miles said his players won’t be in their beds until nearly 4 a.m.