Myke Henry Getting Healthy, Seeing More Time

College basketball coaches often have difficult decisions to make. One of those is deciding who gets playing time. They must balance the positives and negatives and estimate how a player's assets can be enhanced and his liabilities limited. That is the quandry for Bruce Weber with Myke Henry.

Of the six freshmen on the Illinois basketball team, Myke Henry most distinguished himself in high school as a scorer. He can fill up the basket; he has never seen a shot he didn't like. Since the Illini have struggled at times making shots, it is easy to assume Henry would see significant playing time.

However, several complications have limited his minutes. First of all, he has been slow rounding into shape after a knee injury.

"I had a bone bruise," Henry relates. "She said it would bother me for a little bit. When it feels bad, I slow down when I'm playing. I'd say it's about 80%. Sometimes it aches really bad."

He was asked what was affected most by the injury, running, jumping or lateral movement.

"Probably all of that because I have to cut really hard to play."

The injury set him back, but liabilities on the floor have also conspired to limit his opportunities according to Weber.

"He struggles with guarding, he struggles with having a motor and going hard all the time."

Henry's Chicago Orr coach lamented his lack of defense but wasn't able to change him.

"I basically just tried to fill the top of the key up."

Weber needs to trust Henry on both ends of the floor to have confidence putting him in the game.

"Yes, that's basically what it is. It's defense, but I'm playing harder than I did in high school. I just have to play harder and get my motor going."

Henry scored 7 points in 7 minutes of mop-up time at Purdue. He hopes he had an impact on the game. At the least, the outing gave him a confidence boost going forward.

"Yeah, somewhat. I guess confidence comes with more playing time. I'm getting there I think."

Like all freshmen, Henry has also needed to acclimate to college academic pressures. It can be hard to juggle school and competition.

"School is tough with the time in practice, but after awhile you get used to it."

Up to now, the Illinois coaching staff has compared Henry's offensive strengths with his defensive liabilities and has not been certain he creates more points than he gives up. But if the Illini experience frequent scoring woes, Weber says Henry may be utilized more by default.

"If we continue to struggle in stretches with scoring, there's no doubt he's a guy we can give a shot to. He can get some shots up, and he can make some plays. Sometimes he does everything wrong, but the ball still ends up in the basket. That's something you can't teach."

Henry saw his most extensive action at Northwestern Wednesday, due in part to the injury absence of Sam Maniscalco. He scored 6 points and pulled down 3 rebounds in 15 minutes. Weber saw reasons for optimism.

"He dove on the floor, did a solid job. Sam can't play, so now it gives Myke an opportunity. I thought he did good things at Purdue down the stretch.

"Every time he touches it, that sucker is going up. It's maybe better than some of the other guys shooting it. He's got a great future here. He can rebound, he's got the big body."

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