UK's Porter declares himself ready to play after collision
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Despite a laceration that required 10 stitches above his left eye, Kentucky guard Michael Porter practiced Friday and declared himself fit to play when the Wildcats (5-2) host No. 21 Miami (4-2).
Porter, who was injured when he collided earlier this week with teammate Ramon Harris, acknowledged he likely will be sporting a headband. It's an article of clothing he despises, but it helps him see.
"This morning I woke up and my eye was completely swollen shut," Porter said Friday after practicing with his Kentucky teammates. "We tried a headband to pull the skin up. I guess that's what I've got to do."
As Porter prepares to suit up, and possibly even start, in one of Kentucky's biggest early-season tests, the long-term prognosis for Harris is less certain. He was walking and visited his teammates during practice this week, but coach Billy Gillispie said it's too soon to consider when -- and even if -- he'll be able to play again this season.
A news release sent later Friday from UK's medical staff was more optimistic that Harris could return to practice at some point this season. He has symptoms of muscular pain in his neck and back and must wear a protective cervical collar.
"You're talking about guys having tingling in their fingers and toes," Gillispie said. "Basketball's really important, but it's not nearly as important as those kind of things."
The junior forward was preparing to run the floor Wednesday night in Kentucky's victory over Lamar when he hit heads with Porter. While Porter was able to be helped off the floor, Harris lay motionless for several minutes before paramedics took him away on a stretcher with his mother at his side. He stayed the night in the hospital.
Porter saw Harris Thursday and told him he was praying for him. He says when the collision occurred, he thought he'd run into one of the opposing players from Lamar.
"I didn't realize it was Ramon and they said something about Ramon going off on a stretcher," Porter said. "That kind of surprised me. It scared me for a minute. I didn't know how bad it was."
The scrappy guard says he doesn't have a problem envisioning himself back on the floor. In fact, he has watched replays of the collision multiple times and barely cringed when his doctor said bone was protruding from his forehead before he got stitches.
And, when blood seeped from his head onto his uniform while he was stretched out on the medical table, his original instinct was against cleaning it up.
"I didn't want to put a towel on," he said. "I wanted to look tough."
The Wildcats will need Porter and the rest of their healthy players at full-strength against Miami, which Gillispie says features a more athletic frontcourt than any the Wildcats will face in the Southeastern Conference. The Hurricanes are paced by Jack McClinton, who averages 15.2 points a game, and Dwayne Collins, averaging 12.7 points and 10.2 rebounds.
"We just have to keep competing on the defensive end and the offense will work for us," forward Perry Stevenson said. "Coach preaches that every day, getting down and guarding people, being a competitor. That's why we're here, at one of the greatest places to play basketball."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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