Star guard might be back by round of 64

Originally Published: February 17, 2004
Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- Injured Minnesota guard Lindsay Whalen might return to the hardwood sooner than previously expected.

Coach Pam Borton said Tuesday that the senior's broken right hand could be healed in time for the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Whalen broke two metacarpal bones in her shooting hand after falling on it late in the first half against Ohio State on Thursday.

The Gophers had said she would miss four to six weeks, and Whalen last week said she expected a six-week absence. That wouldn't make her available until after the first two games of the NCAA Tournament.

But Whalen visited doctors Tuesday and got good news. Doctors found that the separation of the fracture "was in the bottom part of her hand, where there was a lot of blood circulation, so it wasn't as bad as they thought," Borton said.

"There's a better chance she will be back earlier than expected," Borton said. "It's still week by week. It just depends on how quickly her body can recover from an injury, but it looks a lot brighter than what it did."

Whalen will wear a removable cast and will be reevaluated weekly.

On Sunday, in their first game without Whalen, the Gophers won at Illinois 63-54. They have four games remaining in the regular season, including Thursday at Iowa.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press