No pain, no gain for Clemons
Feb. 28, 2003
In the days leading up to the men's basketball 67-52 win against No. 3 Oklahoma on Wednesday, news briefs across the country described point guard Ricky Clemons' availability for the game as "questionable" and "doubtful." His broken hand even led the athletic department to say he was "out indefinitely."
The indefinite amount was no time at all as Clemons played 38 minutes and scored 13 points for coach Quin Snyder.
"You've just got to go out there and play," Clemons said. "I told coach I wanted to play. You know, I'm not going to let a broken thumb get me out of the game. If (former New York Knick) Willis Reed can do it, I can do it too."
While driving to the basket during Saturday's game, Clemons broke the second metacarpal bone in his left hand, which is between the thumb, the wrist and the index finger, in a fall he took after a collision with Colorado's Michel Morandais.
After taking 200 practice shots Wednesday afternoon, Clemons decided he could play with the hand heavily taped. The letters "NPNG" were written on the tape, which Clemons said stood for "no pain, no gain."
"It's always going to hurt because it's broken, but I'm going to play anyway," he said.
Snyder said he had been planning to start reserve guard Josh Kroenke instead of Clemons.
"He's got a broken wrist," Snyder said. "I didn't think he was going to play. He told me he broke his wrist, so I was thinking, 'OK, we've got to start Josh.'"
There were some drawbacks to the injury, the coach said, but nothing major.
"You could see he wasn't able to go to his left as well, but I don't think it bothered his shot," he said.
Clemons also said ball-handling with the injured hand was originally one of his concerns.
"At first I couldn't dribble with it, so these last couple of days I had to sit out practice and just work on dribbling with it, but it felt good tonight," he said.
Snyder even joked the injury may have helped Clemons play a more controlled game.
"Should I break his other wrist?" Snyder joked.
Freshman forward Kevin Young said Clemons' toughness helped the rest of the team Wednesday.
"It means a lot when you see he has a broken wrist and he's playing, he's still aggressive, he's still shooting the ball," Young said. "He plays hard all the time, and if he's hurt he's still going to play hard."
The hard play on the perimeter limited Oklahoma to 27 percent shooting from the floor, something freshman guard Jimmy McKinney said was a key to winning the game.
"It was very important," McKinney said. "We didn't give them any open looks, and we made them pay."