Malik Dime and Markelle Fultz both fell to the floor, Dime clutching his hand, Fultz grabbing his ankle, two Washington Huskies starters apparently injured late in UW’s 87-61 victory Saturday over Oregon State.
Fultz, it turned out, was fine; the star freshman guard merely rolled his ankle. After being evaluated by a trainer, Fultz walked to the bench under his own power. He said Tuesday that he didn’t miss any practice time this week, and will play Thursday at California.
The news wasn’t so good for Dime. Washington’s 6-foot-9 senior forward and ace shot blocker broke the pinky finger on his right hand, UW coach Lorenzo Romar said Tuesday, and will likely be out four or five weeks while he recovers.
Romar said after Saturday’s game that he didn’t think Dime’s injury was anything major, and that at worst, he should be able to put a splint on the injured finger and play through it. But further examination revealed a break substantial enough to potentially sideline Dime for the majority of the Pac-12 schedule.
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“It’s one of those situations where he would be in too much pain,” Romar said. “He could probably injure someone else because he’d have to be casted, probably, to play. A regular soft splint wouldn’t protect it. If there was a way around it, we’d do it. Everything was explored.”
Without Dime, the Huskies lack a true rim protector in the center of their already struggling defense. Dime, a starter in 12 of UW’s 15 games this season, set UW’s single-season record for blocked shots last year with 88 and was averaging 2.6 blocks per game so far this year. He also averages 5.5 points and 4.9 rebounds per game.
Freshman forward Sam Timmins, who has started seven games this season, seems most likely to replace Dime in the starting lineup alongside starting forward Noah Dickerson, though Romar said Dime’s absence will also mean more playing time for reserve forward Matthew Atewe. Atewe, a junior transfer from Auburn, played a season-high 15 minutes against OSU and scored five points with three rebounds.
The Huskies also have 6-foot-9 sophomore forward Devenir Duruisseau, though he has not played more than eight minutes in a game this season.
“Malik obviously is a tremendous shot blocker, but Matt can also block shots, and Matt is physically strong and he’s athletic,” Romar said. “It’ll just be a different way. Hopefully he can step in along with Sam and do a good job on guys with size.”