The Washington Huskies men’s basketball team will likely be without its best shot blocker for the majority of Pac-12 play.
UW coach Lorenzo Romar said Tuesday that senior forward Malik Dime, who set the school’s single-season blocks record last year, will miss four to five weeks as he recovers from a broken pinky finger on his right hand. Dime broke the finger after he fell late in Washington’s 87-61 victory over Oregon State on Saturday.
Dime and freshman guard Markelle Fultz both fell to the court and required assistance from UW trainers on the same play with 2:22 remaining in the game. Fultz rolled his ankle and said Tuesday that he’s fine, did not miss any practice time and will play Thursday at California. Romar didn’t think Dime’s injury would be serious, either, saying after Saturday’s game that he did not anticipate Dime would miss any games. But the injury turned out worse than he thought.
“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.”
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Dime, a 6-foot-9 native of Senegal, started 12 of UW’s first 15 games and averaged 5.5 points, 4.9 rebounds and a team-best 2.6 blocks per game. His absence leaves UW without a true rim protector, which might be particularly concerning against a California frontcourt that features 6-foot-10 sophomore Ivan Rabb, a Pac-12 player of the year candidate and likely first-round NBA draft pick.
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 mean more playing time for reserve forward Matthew Atewe, too. 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.”