Virginia Coach Tony Bennett provided a few minor updates Monday regarding the recoveries of sophomore guard Joe Harris and senior center Assane Sene from their respective injuries.
Bennett said Harris, who suffered a broken left (non-shooting) hand during Virginia’s 70-52 loss Feb. 11 at North Carolina, should start to see the swelling go down more significantly in the next few days. Doctors and Ethan Saliba, the team’s athletic trainer, told Bennett that it typically takes between 10-12 days for the inflammation to noticeably subside.
“I’m hoping he’s getting closer to that, but the further along we can get him without him really irritating it or, obviously, re-injuring it, then I think it gets a little better,” Bennett said during his segment of the ACC coaches’ teleconference. “At some point, you start streamlining the protective brace that’s on there. So all those things hopefully help your ability to handle it. He did a good job on Saturday. You could see a couple times when it limits you, but that is what it is.”
Harris, Virginia’s second-leading scorer, has averaged four points and 19 minutes in the past two games, during which he has shot 33.3 percent (4 for 12) from the field and missed all five of his three-point attempts. But the fact that he’s playing at all is a bonus for Bennett and his depleted roster.
It remains unclear whether Sene, who fractured his right ankle during Virginia’s 70-38 win Jan. 19 at Georgia Tech, will return this season. Bennett said Monday he did not have a better sense as to when Sene might be able to return. Initially, the team had hoped the 7-foot center might be healthy enough to play by the end of the regular season.
“Physically, he’s 50 percent weight-bearing and still on crutches, so it’s too hard to speculate on physically where he’s at,” Bennett said.
The Cavaliers largely have been relying on a six-man rotation with Sene out, though freshmen guard Paul Jesperson checked into Saturday’s 71-44 win over Maryland less than five minutes into the game – his earliest entry point in a game this season – and logged a career-high 17 minutes.
Virginia fell three spots to No. 25 in the latest Associated Press top 25 poll released Monday. The Cavaliers will play at Virginia Tech on Tuesday night and then host No. 7 North Carolina on Saturday.