Steve Zack cleared to play vs. Wichita State

Steve Zack cleared to play vs. Wichita State

March 27, 2013, 8:15 pm
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LOS ANGELES – It was a surprise. John Giannini didn’t expect it. Neither did the rest of the Explorers.

With about 20 minutes left in practice on Wednesday, doctors cleared Steve Zack and he stepped on the Staples Center Court for La Salle. While his teammates cheered him on, Zack ran the floor a few times and even threw down a couple of dunks. It was a scene they hadn’t witnessed in a while.

Zack sprained ligaments in his left foot against Duquesne on March 2. He hasn’t played since, missing the last six games.

“Our trainer said, ‘Hey, the doctor cleared [him],’” Giannini said. “I was surprised to say the least. So he’s able to play. Now, he did some more things [Wednesday]. He’s obviously out of shape from not having played in four weeks. One of the reasons he’s cleared is they’ve clearly rested the foot and allowed it to heal without putting stress and pressure on it.”

Before getting hurt, the 6-foot-11 sophomore averaged 6.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks. If Zack can play, it would help La Salle’s depth and bench immensely. The Explorers aren’t a big team, and without Zack they’ve relied heavily on starter Jerrell Wright, who played 33 minutes against Boise State, 25 minutes against Kansas State and 27 minutes against Ole Miss.

While Wright played well in each of those games, he also got into foul trouble against the Wildcats. Having Zack back would give the Explorers another big body and, more importantly, five more fouls.

The question is how much Zack could give the Explorers when 13-seed La Salle takes on ninth-seeded Wichita State in the Sweet 16 on Thursday. After practice on Wednesday, Zack had his left foot wrapped in a giant bag of ice.

“He may wake up tomorrow and be sore, but I don’t know,” Giannini said. “But there is nothing structurally wrong. He can play if he feels well enough and we put him in there. So that dramatically changes things.”

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