MHERST, Mass. -- University of Massachusetts freshman guard Michael Lasme (Abidjan, Ivory Coast) will undergo surgery Friday morning on his right wrist after fracturing a carpal bone when he was knocked to the floor in last night's UMass-Rhode Island game.
Lasme, who had averaged 8.2 ppg and 3.3 rpg over the season's first 15 games, will be sidelined for at least three weeks, according to UMass coach Steve Lappas.
"This is a big loss for our team, because Mike was really playing well," Lappas said. "We'll patch things up as best we can and move on. But, losing Mike for any amount of time is a big blow to our team."
The Minutemen, 6-9 overall and 0-3 in the Atlantic 10 Conference, return to action on Saturday, Jan. 18, in a 6 p.m. contest at the Mullins Center against No. 24 (USA Today/ESPN coaches poll) Xavier that will be televised on ESPN2. Tickets for the game may be purchased by calling the UMass Athletic Ticket Office at 1.866.UMASS.TIX.
MHERST - As he hobbled off the court early in the first half, most of the eyes in the Mullins Center were fixated on Mike Lasme's ankle.
That's what the University of Massachusetts medical staff appeared to be concerned with when Pierre Rouzier, the team doctor, accompanied him to the locker room in UMass' loss to Rhode Island Wednesday night.
But nobody seemed to notice that Lasme's right wrist was sporting a fresh round of tape, too.
After the game, Minuteman coach Steve Lappas revealed that the 6-foot-1 freshman guard's wrist was also injured and could be out at least three weeks.
"I think we're more concerned about the wrist," Lappas said in the postgame press conference.
His concerns were well-founded. X-ray's on Thursday revealed a broken bone is Lasme's wrist.
"He'll have surgery (today)," Lappas said. "It could be anywhere from three weeks to the season, depending on how he responds. You never know."
Junior Marcus Cox will replace Lasme in the starting lineup.
The medical report on senior big man Micah Brand's sprained ankle was slightly more encouraging.
"They said he might be able to try (to play)," Lappas said. "He's still hobbling around."
Brand also missed Wednesday's game.
Despite wearing a wrap on his hand and limping, Lasme tried to have a positive attitude.
"I'm looking forward to healing quickly and coming back to play the rest of the season," he said.
Lasme wasn't sure when the injury occurred and speculated that it might be an old ailment.
"My junior year I had, I thought, a sprain. I rested it for a month and started playing again," he said.
He thought he aggravated it Wednesday night when he was knocked to the floor while taking charge in the first half. But the game tape revealed he fell on his other wrist on that play.
The loss of Lasme likely will increase the playing time of almost every player on the UMass roster. His absence leaves the Minutemen with two healthy scholarship guards - Anthony Anderson and Cox.
Freshman small forward Jeff Viggiano has played some shooting guard, while sophomore Brennan Martin did so very briefly against Columbia.
If Viggiano, the starter at small forward, slides to guard then playing time opens at the three. Junior Raheim Lamb, who'd be a natural to see his time increase, could see time at power forward as well, if Brand can't play.
Matt Vautour can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MHERST - University of Massachusetts guard Michael Lasme was scheduled to have surgery yesterday afternoon to repair a fractured right wrist. But after noticing marked improvement in the morning, the freshman from the Ivory Coast has decided to continue playing with the fracture - as he has done for two years - and have surgery at the end of the season.
The decision represents a dramatic turn of events for Lasme, who injured his wrist and right ankle in the Minutemen's Wednesday loss to Rhode Island.
Subsequent tests showed that the wrist was broken. Yet while UMass coaches thought the break came in the URI game, Lasme asserted, and school officials said doctors confirmed, that the break had occurred earlier.
Lasme said it occurred in a high school basketball game during his junior season, when ''I went up for a dunk and someone low-bridged me.''
MHERST - A team desperate for some encouraging news got some Friday.
Mike Lasme and Micah Brand could be returning to action for the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team shortly.
Both are game-time decisions for Saturday's 6 p.m. game against Xavier at the Mullins Center.
While Brand, who has been sidelined with a sprained ankle, was always a possibility for Saturday, Lasme's potential return came as a shock to the Minutemen.
Lasme, a 6-foot-1 freshman guard, was scheduled to have surgery on his broken right wrist Friday and miss anywhere from three weeks to potentially the rest of the season.
But when Lasme woke up Friday morning, the swelling in the joint had gone down. His playing status may now hinge more on his left ankle, which he sprained in Wednesday's loss to Rhode Island.
"Last night I couldn't move it at all, but you can see now I can do all the stuff," Lasme said while rotating and moving his wrist. "I think I'll be back on the court next week. My ankle feels better. I can walk on it."
"We still don't know how it's going to turn out," UMass coach Steve Lappas said. "We'll see what happens. I doubt it for tomorrow. It's not definite, but I doubt it. He'll dress and we'll see how he is in warmups and go from there."
Lappas said Thursday that doctors determined Lasme's wrist injury to be the re-aggravation of an undiagnosed fracture that occurred two years ago. Lasme played with the ailment as a high school senior and throughout this year.
Lasme, who is averaging 8.2 points per game, said he was told that playing wouldn't worsen the wrist and that he could postpone correcting it until after the season.
"They told me it was already broken and it can't get any worse. I've been playing with it," Lasme said.
Brand, who missed Wednesday's game, did not practice Friday. But Lappas hasn't written him off.
"He couldn't do anything (Friday), so I doubt it. But I'm not ruling out a miraculous recovery," Lappas said.
Xavier (11-4, 2-1 A-10) has had its own roster problems. Sophomore big man Anthony Coleman transferred earlier this season and senior David Young was dismissed from the squad.
Senior point guard Lionel Chalmers went down with a broken foot on New Year's Eve, shorthanding coach Thad Matta's squad even further.
The Musketeers, who this week dropped out of the top 25 for the first time this season after losing to Richmond, are down to eight regular members of their playing rotation.
But fortunately for Xavier, two of those eight are David West and Romain Sato.
West, an All-American last year, is on his way to becoming the first player to lead the Atlantic 10 in rebounding four straight years. The 6-foot-9 senior big man is averaging 11.6 boards to go along with 19.1 points per game.
Sato, a 6-foot-5 junior swingman, isn't far behind West in either category with 16.1 points and 7.4 rebounds.
Freshman Dedrick Finn has been solid filling in for Chalmers.
The Minutemen nearly upset NCAA Tournament-bound Xavier last year in the A-10 Tournament, using a box-and-one defense on West to knock the Musketeers out of their rhythm. Xavier eventually won 65-59 in overtime.
Lappas hinted at more trickery.
"We're going to do some different things I don't really want to say right now," Lappas said. "We have some different things schemed up."
Unless Lasme is deemed ready to play, junior guard Marcus Cox, who started the first nine games of the season, will return to the starting lineup.
After a tough start to his season that hit its low point with a one-game suspension for an undisclosed violation of team rules, Cox said he's back on the right track.
"This is a second chance. I have to take advantage of it," Cox said. "Coach said I don't have to go out and get a whole bunch of points, which I think I was trying to do before. I just have to go out and be solid, play my role and play well.
"I think I had a lot of things going on in my head, dealing with my family and playing time before. My head was clogged. I took a timeout with myself. After the suspension and things, now my head is clear. I feel better out there playing. At one point I lost all confidence. I think I got that back."
Matt Vautour can be reached at email@example.com.