UPDATE 9:36 a.m.: A Cal spokesman has told BearTerritory that Wallace will not play on Friday against Hawaii.
CORRECTION 10:02 a.m.: The story originally was headlined, 'REPORT: Wallace Out with Broken Hand,' but it has only been confirmed that he has injured his right hand, not that it was broken. BearTerritory regrets the error.
UPDATE 10:18: Wallace has, in fact, broken his hand, according to a Cal spokesman, and the headline has been changed to reflect that.
CORRECTION 2:40 p.m.: Wallace injured his hand in practice before Cal went to Spokane, Cuonzo Martin said in a press conference on Thursday. An earlier version of this article said that he injured it while in Spokane. BearTerritory regrets the error.
Senior California point guard Tyrone Wallace injured his right hand in practice on Wednesday in Berkeley, just before the Bears traveled to Spokane, Wash., on the eve of the program's first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since Wallace's freshman year of 2012-13. Wallace broke a bone in that right hand, and is expected to miss 3-5 weeks, or the duration of his senior season.
Cal (23-10) faces off with No. 13-seed Hawaii on Friday at 11 a.m., and with a No. 4 seed, is seeded the highest it's been in program history.
"Tyrone Wallace injured his hand in practice today," Cal spokesman Wes Mallette said. "He is being evaluated and an updated will be provided when more information is known in the morning."
Wallace is the only player on the Cal roster with NCAA Tournament experience. This season, he's averaging 15.3 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game.
After returning to Berkeley for his senior season, and to complete his degree in a promise to his now-deceased grandfather, Wallace went down with a broken bone in the same hand on Jan. 16, and missed five games. During his absence, the Bears scored five points per game fewer than before he went down.
Junior Sam Singer will start in place of Wallace, as he did for eight games this season – the first five when Wallace was out and the next three after he came back to the active roster. Cal went 6-2 with Singer at the helm. During the stretch, Singer twice broke his career high in assists, first with nine against Stanford and then with 11 against Oregon. He averaged 4.1 ppg, 5.0 apg and 3.9 rpg over the eight games.
The left-handed shooting Wallace returned to the lineup ahead of schedule against then-No. 12 Oregon, coming off the bench.
Since returning from injury, Wallace has led Cal to seven wins in nine tries, averaging 16.5 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.7 rebounds.
The Bears have averaged 85.4 points per game since Wallace's return, up from their season average of 75.1.
Before he was injured, head coach Cuonzo Martin said that the Bears would "lean on his experience."
"I've never been caught up in the fact that a guy played in the Tournament before, because he was a freshman," Martin said. "He wasn't the lead guy, but he was a part of the team. We lean on him because of his leadership as a senior, who's been battle tested in our program, because the NCAA Tournament is new for everybody as soon as they step on the floor, and some teams go every year. It's a different state, a different venue. It's still a matter of putting the ball in the basket. I think Tyrone's ability to lead our team and stay aggressive, he's always going to be in attack mode, and that helps us more than the verbiage of how to play in the NCAA Tournament."
Without Wallace, Cal loses a stressful match-up for opponents, and a player who can greatly impact the game with his scoring. However, with Singer in the lineup, the Bears have a better pure facilitator, and are less prone to turnovers. Even Jaylen Brown, who will play on the ball in Wallace's absence, as well, does not turn the ball over as much as he's prone to normally, when he's playing the point. Singer's defense has been called all-league level, according to Martin, so Cal won't lose much there; if anything, the Bears gain on defense. Still, losing a senior scorer who's been to the Tournament is a hard loss to swallow.