Ratliff Progressing After Thumb Surgery

A.J. Ratliff is once again shooting on the side of IU's practices, and he's optimistic about a quick return to the Indiana lineup.

While D.J. White is now sidelined with an injury, his sophomore teammate A.J. Ratliff appears to be battling back quickly.

The 6-2, 185-pound sophomore won't play in Thursday's exhibition game against Indianapolis, but it's obvious he's making plenty of progress. Ratliff is shooting on the side at IU's practices, and he's also able to run the floor and handle bounce passes on the side as well.

"I want to get back as soon as possible," said Ratliff, who had surgery on his broken thumb two weeks ago. "The biggest thing with this injury is healing. It just takes time. I have to wait it out."

Ratliff said the injury happened during a practice when he was cutting and got tied up with junior Errek Suhr. It was a fluke injury, but a bad one as well.

"I was getting open, and Errek Suhr hit it the wrong way," said Ratliff. "I was using my hand, he hit it the wrong way, and it snapped. That's why it was so bad and people didn't know how long I'd be out."

There's still no timetable for Ratliff's return, although late November appears to be a realistic possibility. While the Nov. 30 Duke game once seemed like a stretch, there's optimism that he'll be back in the lineup for that Big Ten/ACC Challenge, and potentially even sooner.

"I feel like I can play right now," said Ratliff. "As long as I can shoot and run, I feel like I can play."

For the time being, though, Ratliff will have to continue to work out on the side of the practice floor. He said he's getting the thumb x-rayed every 10 days, and will have it looked at again next Tuesday.

"I went in for my first x-ray last Wednesday, and all they said was the surgery went well and everything was looking good," said Ratliff. "They don't want to tell me when (I'll be back), because they don't know. It's all about my bone growing back and getting stronger."

Ratliff is doing what he can to not only keep in basketball shape, but also to speed up his recovery as well.

"I've been drinking all kinds of milk and I take four calcium pills a day," said Ratliff.

He's now been joined on the sidelines by his teammate White, who is expected to be out for six weeks as well. Ratliff knows that White's absence will be a big one as well.

"With an injury like DJ's, you have people that can step in, but D.J. is always going to be missed," said Ratliff. "His defensive and offensive presence is going to be missed."

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