BLOOMINGTON-Sidelined with an ailment to the same knee that he injured two years ago, senior Sean Kline still has visions of concluding his IU career a happy man.
The senior from Huntington, Ind., isn't smiling right now. He's been on the shelf for nearly 10 days, icing the same right knee that he tore ligaments in nearly two years ago against Purdue. It took Kline more than a year to completely recover from the initial injury, and he now finds himself sidelined again.
"It's very frustrating, especially as good as I was feeling," said Kline, who started in two of the three games he played in while averaging 6.0 points, 2.7 rebounds and 16.7 minutes. "I felt like I was contributing at a good rate and performing pretty well. To come down with an injury on the same knee is kind of tough on me."
Kline recently had an MRI on the knee, and the results were mixed.
"There are some things going on internally with my knee," said Kline. "Nothing acute at this point, so it's just a day-to-day evaluation."
These days, that knee is keeping him on off the court. While Kline is hopeful that he'll be able to play in tonight's 7 p.m. match-up with Indiana State, IU Coach Mike Davis said after the Eastern Michigan game that the 6-8, 233-pound forward would miss the intrastate battle. It would be the third game he's missed this season due to the knee and the second straight contest he's been held out.
But Kline says it's gradually feeling better, and he hopes to be back soon.
"As of (Monday), I feel better than I did the last three days, so that's a good sign," said Kline.
One of Kline's biggest concerns is staying in game shape. That's been an issue for sophomore A.J. Ratliff after missing 3-4 weeks with a thumb injury, and Kline doesn't want to find himself playing catch-up from a conditioning standpoint when he is ready to return.
"I've been out a week or a week and a half, and I feel like I'm starting to lose conditioning," said Kline. "When you're not out there everyday running around and involved in drills, you start to lose what you have. You lose the rhythm that you've developed playing everyday. So I'm just looking forward to getting back on the court."
When Kline does return, Davis has talked about limiting his practice time between games in an effort to keep the strain on the knee down. Kline says that's something he's discussed with the IU head coach, although it's unclear exactly how much Kline would be held out.
Kline is open to whatever Davis and the IU training staff suggests, so long as it gets him back on the floor playing with a team that has a chance to accomplish some special things.
"This team, it's exciting, very exciting to watch and play," said Kline. "We have a lot of weapons, and there are a lot of things we can do offensively and defensively."
This is also a team that has a chance to contend for IU's first Big Ten title since 2002. While the likes of Michigan State, Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois have similar aspirations, Kline is hoping he can go out with a Big Trophy hoisted overhead in his final season in an IU uniform.
"That would be the ultimate to go out on – a Big Ten championship," said Kline. "I'm hoping and praying that we're able to do that. I think we have the system in place to be able to do it, so it's just whether we have the effort and the heart and the desire."
If Indiana can accomplish that feat, Kline says it would erase the memories of back-to-back sub-par seasons where the Hoosiers failed to earn a trip to the NCAA Tournament, and the disappointment of being sidelined twice with his knee.
"(Winning a Big Ten title) would make it all go away," said Kline. "The last two seasons would be the furthest thing from my if we could win a Big Ten championship this year. I'd graduate a happy man."
Knee Has Kline Down, Out For Now
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