He still hadn’t seen the most recent X-ray, but Ohio State head coach Thad Matta sounded more upbeat Monday when discussing the status of injured forward David Lighty.
On Jan. 29, the junior who has been sidelined since Dec. 17 with a fractured left foot had X-rays taken to see how the bone is growing around the screw that has been inserted into his foot. The following day, Matta said he had not seen the results but cautioned against expecting Lighty to rejoin the lineup anytime soon.
One day prior to OSU’s home contest with Purdue (7 p.m., ESPN), Matta said he still had not seen the X-ray but added that Lighty had been cleared to participate in a few limited activities.
“I think that it wasn’t like to the point where he’s full released and ready to go,” Matta said. “We’ve got him to where he can do a little bit of running on the treadmill but we don’t want him doing any cutting or anything like that. I’m not exactly sure what they were looking for in the X-ray, but it wasn’t like, ‘OK, perfect, here we go.’ ”
In addition to his work on the treadmill, Matta said Lighty has been working on both an elliptical machine and an exercise bike.
There is no concrete timetable for Lighty’s return from an injury that takes 6 to 12 weeks of recovery time. For that reason, Matta said he is more focused right now on the guys who are able to help the team during games and practices.
“Right now I know we’re not going to have him for however long and I have to keep my focus on the guys who are playing for us,” Matta said. “Just seeing him – he’s down at the other end shooting – that’s encouraging to me to see him because I love the kid so much.”
Talking Him Up: The interview format employed by OSU can result in players being put in slightly awkward positions.
Facing a cadre of reporters from seats on an elevated stage, the Buckeyes are often paired up when talking to the media. As such, a question about Evan Turner that is directed at Jon Diebler while Turner is seated next to him puts Diebler in the unenviable position of gushing – or criticizing – his teammate while he is in earshot.
That mean the Big Ten’s reigning player of the week had to sit there Monday and listen to Diebler singing his praises.
“I wasn’t surprised,” Diebler said of Turner wining the honor for the second time this season. “He’s been doing it all year. He’s leading us in tight games, getting buckets when we need them and getting key rebounds as well. That’s just hats off to him because he’s worked extremely hard for this.”
Situated just a few inches to Diebler’s left, Turner was asked what it is like to sit there and listen to a teammate talk him up.
“I have to bite my cheeks a little bit and not try to smile,” he said. “I’m just really fortunate, really blessed right now just to get the respect of my teammates. Jon Diebler’s a really good guy and a hard-working teammate. Everything that we say Ohio State is, he carries that out to the fullest. That’s a big compliment for him to say that. I really appreciate that, I really do.”
Under The Knife: After suffering a torn ACL during practice Jan. 12, forward Nikola Kecman underwent successful surgery Jan. 29.
He is out for the rest of the season, and Matta recently lamented that fact.
“Just another blow to us,” he said. “I do think that from what we had seen he was going to be a guy that was going to help us. It was going to take him a little time just to get into the game regiment.”
After missing 12 games due to an NCAA suspension, Kecman was active for two games and saw action in just one, accumulating six points and five rebounds in 11 minutes against Houston Baptist.
Plans On Hold: With the country in the grip of an economic downturn, a report came out that even OSU athletics are not immune to the troubles. Projected to post a loss this year, a number of future projects for the athletic programs appear to be on hold for the time being.
One of them is the plan to build a new practice facility at Value City Arena for both the men’s and women’s basketball teams.
“We’re trying to get it done,” Matta said. “The stock market going up would help. I think it’s just we’re sitting in a holding pattern like the rest of the country in everything that we’re doing right now.”
In an effort to bring in a few more dollars, the university announced that all remaining upper-bowl tickets for the men’s basketball season will now cost $5.