Archie Miller fell short of making the statement definitive, but he gave every other indication possible Tuesday that transfer guard Parker Stewart and center Joey Brunk will not play at any point this season.
That much is probably obvious by now at this point anyway. The Hoosiers remaining schedule consists of four games in two weeks time and neither player has appeared in a game this season. Brunk has been out since November following back surgery and Stewart just joined the team at the semester break after transferring from Tennessee-Martin following the unexpected death of his father and UTM head coach Anthony Stewart in November.
The two players have been attending each of the Hoosiers’ games and have been working out to different extents, but neither player has dressed for a game let alone played. It’s extremely unlikely to happen now, Miller said.
“Neither guy is available,” Miller said. “And we’re down to 10 days left in the regular season.”
Miller said Brunk still isn’t physically ready. He’s made some rehabilitative progress from surgery, but not to the point that it’s conceivable for him to be in game shape soon. The Hoosiers clearly miss the 6-foot-11, 255-pounder and the lack of frontcourt depth has forced sophomore Trayce Jackson-Davis (34.0 minutes per game) and redshirt junior Race Thompson (29.0 mpg) to play an extraordinary number of minutes for big men. However, he’s not at the point where he can take any of those on.
“Joey is just now starting to get a little bit more active,” Miller said. “… Running on treadmills, maybe some non-contact conditioning. He has yet to do anything with a basketball. So Joey is pretty much done for the season. The big thing for him is to continue to do his recovery. He’s doing really well and we’re pleased with where he’s at. He’s got to some time to continue rehabilitate the back and the muscles and all of that.”
Miller has been more vague with the reasons why Stewart is still sitting out. If he were to play, it wouldn’t cost him anything from the two seasons of eligibility because of the rules approved for this season for COVID-19 reasons. The 6-5, 210-pounder who averaged 19.2 points per game in his one season at UTM after starting his career at Pittsburgh could cure much of what ails Indiana because he’s a big-bodied guard with shooting range. He hit 71 3-pointers in each of his two college seasons. However Miller said he’s still working his way into the program and wasn’t very specific about what that means.
“Parker has yet to be fully engaged in practice,” Miller said. “He’s still dealing with a lot of different stuff just in terms of getting acclimated here, getting in the groove of things. He does participate in good portions of practice, more so than he did two weeks ago, three weeks ago. But I think the big thing for him is to continue to just get acclimated. But neither guy will be available.”
So that leaves the Hoosiers where they have been throughout the year — with 10 scholarship players to navigate the season.
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