Rick Pitino eased the throttle on his preseason conditioning and individual workouts this year in an attempt to keep his team healthy and injury-free. And it worked. But Saturday, the injury-bug struck again, as senior forward Juan Palacios went down with a torn MCL on the second official day of practice for the 2007-08 season.
Palacios is expected to miss anywhere from 4-8 weeks, meaning he could return before the Cardinals travel west for the Las Vegas Invitational Thanksgiving weekend or not until some point in December. Since Palacios' injury won't require surgery, Pitino ruled out a redshirt season Monday at U of L's Media Day.
"We were a little stunned by what happened to Tello," Pitino said. "It took our breath away how unlucky he has been. We're not going to redshirt him because he doesn't need surgery. So he could be ready in a month - we're saying six weeks because he's a slow healer. We're hoping a little bit before (Vegas) just to get him ready because he's going to need some practice time."
with an injured MCL.
Palacios went down when teammate Terrance Farley fell into his leg after taking a charge in the lane.
"I was on help defense and Terrance Farley took and charge and that's when he just landed against my knee and almost broke it," Palacios said. "Once I heard all my ligaments kind of crack I was just praying at the moment that it wasn't going to be something worse than what it was. I was just hoping it wasn't something really bad like the ACL. I was fortunate that it was only the MCL."
Palacios sat in a chair for his media interviews Monday, crutches close behind. He'll now begin rehab with U of L trainer Fred Hina and the Louisville medical staff.
"They say it will take probably 6 to 8 weeks," Palacios said. "Hopefully with the rehab and the great help of Fred Hina our trainer maybe I can get on the court a little bit faster. At the same time, I have a history of healing slowly. So around two months."
Palacios has been taking it easy the past two day since the injury.
"Right now I've just been putting a lot of ice on it and the main thing is to protect it and keep the knee stable," Palacios said. "I don't know what we're going to do as far as therapy to get better."
Palacios has been plagued with injuries the past two seasons. Two years ago, he suffered a severe ankle injury that hampered him for more than a year. Last year, the 6'8 forward missed significant practice and game time with neck and back injuries.
"Sometimes it gets a little bit frustrating because every time I get to the level that I want to be at something happens," Palacios said. "I've got to keep going and not let this keep me down."
Palacios figures to be a key contributor for what many publications say is a Top 5-10 team, providing valuable minutes and experience at the power forward position. Sophomore Earl Clark will likely start at power forward and 6'9 Derrick Caracter will probably provide depth at that spot in Palacios' absence early this season.
"This team is so good and I just want to be a part of a great team," Palacios said. "I'm going to miss a couple of games but hopefully I can (still) be part of the team and help them."