By Todd Golden
TERRE HAUTE — A cautiously positive outlook for Indiana State guard Jake Kelly turned to the worst case scenario on Wednesday.
Kelly injured his left knee in ISU’s 70-52 loss at Southern Illinois on Tuesday and a MRI revealed that he tore the ACL in his knee and will be out for the remainder of the season.
The diagnosis was made by ISU team doctor Tom Klootwyk on Wednesday afternoon in Indianapolis.
“It’s a bad deal when anybody goes down for the year like that. In Jake’s case, he’s had a lot thrown in his lap in the last year. To have that happen is another real challenge for him to overcome,” said ISU coach Kevin McKenna, shortly after he delivered the news to Kelly’s family on Wednesday afternoon.
“You lose your mom, you join a new team and try to get acclimated and this happens. It’s really, really a terrible thing to have happen. With the support of his teammates and coaches, he can get through this too,” McKenna said.
Kelly could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
The initial opinion of Southern Illinois’ medical staff on Tuesday night was that Kelly had a MCL sprain, but there was no damage to his ACL. Both the SIU staff and ISU trainer Brad Yeargin did say there was swelling at the time. The MRI revealed the tear.
ISU will file for a medical redshirt waiver. The NCAA threshold for a medical redshirt waiver is that a player has had to have played 30 percent or fewer of his team’s games. Kelly has played in all 12 of ISU’s games so far.
ISU’s case would rest on the fact that the NCAA considers a non-exempt tournament — ISU played four games in the Preseason NIT — as one contest date. If that is deemed to be the case, than Kelly would have nine "official" games under his belt.
If the NCAA considers ISU to have had a 30-game schedule, Kelly would be right at 30 percent. If the NCAA considers ISU to have had less than a 30-game schedule, he would exceed the 30 percent threshold. If the Preseason NIT is considered to officially be one game, ISU currently has a 28-game schedule, including one postseason tournament game and excluding exhibition games.
Kelly’s injury occurred when he was fouled by Southern Illinois forward Carlton Fay on a breakaway opportunity in the second half of ISU’s game against the Salukis. Fay put his body into Kelly with a hard, but clean, foul. Kelly’s knee planted as he fell, resulting in the injury.
ISU fans with long memories know Dec. 30 has been a bleak day in recent seasons for the Sycamores. On Dec. 30, 2005, David Moss tore a hamstring in a game at Missouri State and was lost for a month. His absence deep-sixed the 2006 season.
McKenna is confident the Sycamores’ guard depth will keep the team in good stead to deal with an injury this time.
Kelly had started the last two games with Harry Marshall coming off the bench. Marshall would resume the starting role he had prior to Kelly ascension to the starting lineup. Additional minutes will be spread among Rashad Reed, Jordan Printy and Aaron Carter.
“[Production from the other guards] is just something that’s going to have to happen. Rashad has to become a better ball-handler. Harry will obviously assume more of a role, he was already doing a lot of that anyway. Jordan Printy and Aaron Carter will have more of an opportunity now. That’s what depth is for,” McKenna said.
McKenna indicated that redshirt Jake Odum, who plays point guard, will not be activated at this time.
“We’re going to keep him where he’s at for now. The coaches talked about it and we feel like we can get through this and still be able to have a good year,” McKenna said.