Once the disappointment fades and the rehab starts, D.J. White has a dilemma to deal with.
On Saturday, Indiana's sophomore forward broke his left foot for a second time. Just five games into his return from the initial injury, White's immediate future now involves another wave of doctors visits, rehab sessions in the swimming pool, and a seat on the sidelines during both Hoosier practices and games.
While it's a different injury that occurred in a different place and in a different manner, the prognosis is the same – he's out at least four to six weeks.
Even that timetable is optimistic, considering that White's conditioning figures to be suspect at best with another month and a half away from the court, and a second break to the same foot will have IU's medical staff extremely cautious before clearing him to return.
It's a tough blow to an IU basketball team that has won all five games since White's return, a run that has pushed IU back into the nation's top 10 for the first time in three years. But it's an even bigger blow to White, the reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year who had All-America aspirations as a sophomore.
The year certainly hasn't gone as planned for White. He was initially sidelined for two months during the off-season after undergoing surgery to remove a growth on his jaw. Once the season started, White has now broken his foot twice while also tearing a ligament in his finger.
"He's just been through so much," IU Coach Mike Davis said Monday. "With his finger and his jaw, that's four different things for him."
With all of that in mind, is White best served by trying to get back on the floor this season in time to help the Hoosiers in the postseason?
If White tries to return this season, he passes up the opportunity to take a medical redshirt and still have three years of eligibility remaining. While White probably doesn't envision himself as a college basketball player in the 2008-09 season, at least he hasn't eliminated that option by suiting up for just a handful of games in March.
Secondly, if there's one thing that is for certain, it's that he won't be 100 percent at any point this season. Whether that's from a physical or conditioning standpoint or both, if White plays again, he will have exhausted a year of eligibility during a season that he was never at full strength.
Finally, it may be best for this IU team to accept the fact it's going to have chase a Big Ten title and make its postseason run without White. If the players are constantly waiting, hoping and talking about White's return, it can be a distraction and even a crutch to a squad that is, quite honestly, good enough to compete with anyone in the country with or without the 6-9, 242-pounder.
Davis said Monday that he plans to sit down with White and his family in the next week or two to talk about his options. It's clear from what the Hoosier coach has said that White's immediate thoughts are about trying to get back on the floor as quickly as possible, even if that means he's only able to be a 10-15 minute/game contributor off the bench.
"He wants to come back," said Davis. "Talking to him, he definitely wants to come back."
While that might be what he wants, it's probably not in his best interests.
What's Right For White?
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