Concern focuses on Douglas-Roberts
Ankle sprain termed 'mild to moderate'
By Jim Masilak
March 19, 2007
NEW ORLEANS -- As the University of Memphis celebrated a return trip to the Sweet 16 on Sunday evening, Chris Douglas-Roberts lay flat on a wooden bench, his eyes closed, his sprained left ankle propped on a cooler and draped in ice.
A few minutes earlier, the Tigers' sophomore guard had been sprawled out on the floor of the New Orleans Arena, writhing in pain after landing awkwardly under the basket late in No. 2-seeded Memphis' 78-62 second-round NCAA Tournament victory over No. 7 Nevada.
As a downcast Douglas-Roberts was being placed into a protective boot and leaving the locker room on crutches, his teammates expressed understandable concern over their leading scorer's status for the remainder of the postseason.
Freshman point guard Willie Kemp said playing without Douglas-Roberts in Thursday's South Regional semifinal game against No. 3 Texas A&M at San Antonio's Alamodome would be "pretty much unthinkable."
"We need him to continue on our journey," junior point guard Andre Allen said. "We know he'll be there for us."
That will be determined by the severity of the injury, and Douglas-Roberts' response to treatment over the next few days.
"It is mild to moderate," Tigers coach John Calipari said of the injury. "I told him, 'Rub some dirt on it, Mama's boy. You're playing Thursday.'"
Calipari, however, added that he doesn't know whether the Tigers' leading scorer will be available to face the Aggies, who figure to enjoy a significant edge playing 200 miles from their College Station campus.
"If he can't go, he can't go," Calipari said. "In that kind of game, you can't be, what, 70 percent? We don't know yet. We've got some time until Thursday. Will they move the game to Friday? No, I don't think so."
Douglas-Roberts, who averages a team-best 15.4 points per game and scored 16 Sunday against the Wolf Pack, told teammates he was "OK" following the Tigers' 24th straight victory.
"Before he went to the locker room, he said, 'Win this for me. Win this,'" freshman guard Doneal Mack said. "We just took it into our hearts that we were gonna win it for him, and we did."
The Tigers (32-3), who outscored Nevada by a 14-2 margin following Douglas-Roberts' departure, have played without him before this season.
The Detroit native suffered a high right ankle sprain during a Jan. 11 victory at Houston. While he was still able to play a full part two days later at Southern Miss, he pulled himself out of the Jan. 16 victory over UAB after just two minutes.
Douglas-Roberts was then held out of games against East Carolina and Tulsa -- both wins -- largely as a precautionary measure.
If Douglas-Roberts can't play Thursday, either Jeremy Hunt or Mack would figure to get the starting nod. Mack started twice in Douglas-Roberts' stead back in January, scoring 15 points against ECU and seven against Tulsa.
The Tigers, though, hope Douglas-Roberts heals more quickly this time.
"He's a big part of our team. He's one of our leaders," Kemp said. "When he goes down, he usually gets back up. He didn't get back up this time. We need him back."