In the span of one week, Rob Phinisee was carried by teammates on the Branch McCracken Court twice.
The circumstances could not have been more different, as his teammates hoisted him on their shoulders following a game-winning shot over Purdue, and then he hopped off with assistance from them after a first half leg injury on Wednesday evening.
Indiana will not have Phinisee available when they travel to Maryland on Saturday according to head coach Mike Woodson, who described his senior point guard as “day-to-day” in a Friday media availability.
“He’s not going to play tomorrow (Saturday), and he could possibly be day-to-day,” Woodson said. “We know the extent of it, he had plantar fasciitis, and he’s not playing tomorrow. I wish I had him, but next man up.”
In his absence Woodson said Khristian Lander, who has also been out with an undisclosed leg injury might be available to play, but he wasn’t yet sure about that. Trey Galloway and Tamar Bates are also options at the one on Saturday according to Woodson.
Woodson was asked how many minutes he thought starting point guard Xavier Johnson could play.
“I don’t go into games worrying about how many minutes,” Woodson said. “I coach based on how guys are playing. It’s a feel. If he’s (Johnson) gotta go 40 minutes, hell, we’ll play him 40 minutes.
“Khristian might be available some tomorrow in limited minutes, we’ll know more tomorrow when we get up in the morning. If that’s the case he’ll relieve him some. I can play Galloway at some one, Scoop (Tamar Bates) might have to play some one. I just don’t look at positions like that anymore. Everybody has got to pitch in and do their part based on who’s out. It’s just that simple.”
Phinisee is arguably Indiana’s best on-ball defender, helping the second-unit to be highly effective on that end of the floor. His per-40 minute steals and blocked shots this season are both career highs.
A back-up for the first time in 2021-22, Phinisee is averaging the lowest minutes per game of his career with 19.5 per contest. He is averaging 5.1 points, 2.0 assists and 2.6 rebounds in those minutes while shooting a career-low 31.7 percent from the field overall. His three-point percentage of 29.6 percent is an improvement over last season.
The career high moments followed by lows are familiar to Phinisee, who suffered a season-altering concussion in the game following his memorable game-winning shot against Butler in 2018. Last season he poured in 16 first half points against Nebraska before suffering a knee injury later in that contest that slowed him down. Phinisee had a career-high 20 points against Purdue last week, and hit a shot in the final minute to end a nine-game losing streak against the Boilermakers just days before this latest injury.
The senior point guard has dealt with various other ailments throughout his career that have put a damper on his momentum, including multiple issues in 2019 that caused him to miss five of the first nine contests.
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