Ward Duty

After an almost injury-free season, the Mountaineer basketball team racked up several injuries, ranging from slight to very concerning, during their 65-54 win over Kent State. WVU's locker room looked more like a triage unit than an athletic facility as staff members hustled to begin treatments after the game.

Stretched out on the floor, point guards Jarmon Durisseau-Collins and Tyler Relph had ice bags ontheir sprained ankles, which were elevated to help limit swelling. Patrick Beilein, who took an elbow under the jaw and a finger in the eye, also had an ice bag taped to his leg as the result of a last minute collision. Other tape jobs and repairs were also in evidence, most notably the nose of forward Tyrone Sally, who was smacked on the beak at the end of a layup attempt.

Buzzing around those players were athletic training coordinator Randy Meador and members of his team, while strength staffers Mike Barwis and Autumn Speck stood by discussing treatment options and exercises. All of this gave the quiet celebration in the locker room a bit of an edge, as onlookers noted the effects of the physical nature of the contest.

"We're a little banged up, as you can see, but we're a tough team, and we'll be back," Beilein noted as he talked about the team's injuries. "That's what postseason basketball is about, and we love it.

"It's hard mentally and physically [to play through injuries]," Beileing continued. "We just have to overcome it. But if you don't think about them [injuries], a lot of times you can go out and play normally. And I believe this team can do that."

One player who did just that was Tyrone Sally, who was left prostrate on the floor (and subjected to boos and catcalls from no-class Kent State fans) for several minutes after a shot to his nose in the second half. Sally sat out three minutes while the athletic training staff stopped the bleeding, then returned to give the Mountaineers an emotional lift, along with a pair of key free throws and some big defensive rebounds down the stretch.

"He's a warrior," head coach John Beilein said of his junior forward. "He made big shots tonight. We're so young that sometimes its tough to decide who the leaders are, and Tyrone is so quiet. But the team does feel that way about him."

Sally and Patrick Beilein should be ok for Friday's home game against Rhode Island. Relph's ankle sprain did not look as severe as Durisseau-Collins' although Relph admitted that he didn't try to do much after turning it late in the game.

"I knew I had to stay in there," Relph said afterward. "We hit foul shots down the stretch, and I couldn't do much the last two minutes, so I just kind of limped around."

Durisseau-Collins, on the other hand, went immediately to the bench after his sprain, and had ice on the ankle within minutes. His status will likely be questionable right up until gametime.

One thing that will help in the recovery scenarios for the walking wounded is the fact that the Mountaineers will be at home on Friday. That will give the players access to the full range of treatment equipment and protocols, and give them the best chance to get back on the court for the game with the Rams of Rhode Island.

"We'll let our great sports medicine staff work on it," John Beilein said with confidence. "If we have to, we did play last year with Joe some at the point, so that will be one thing we'll look at."

The Mountaineers host Rhode Island on Friday night at 7:00 p.m. at the WVU Coliseum.

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