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November 7, 2012Nov. 6, 2012
By Gregg Bell - UW Director of Writing
SEATTLE - The defending Pac-12 regular-season champions have sustained their first loss of the season, five days before their opening game.
But it could have been a lot worse.
Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar announced Tuesday that power forward Shawn Kemp Jr. will miss six to eight weeks after tearing the patella tendon in his right knee.
Romar said he "anticipates" having the 6-foot-9 sophomore back in time for conference play.
Kemp, who had emerged as Washington's best scoring threat inside, vows to be back for the Pac-12 opener at Washington State Jan. 5.
"Oh, I'll be back by then, yeah," Kemp said, nodding his head affirmatively -- and assuredly.
The son of the ex-Seattle Supersonics star said his knee had been bothering him all summer, though he did play in the Huskies' six-game exhibition tour across Europe into early September. Then Oct. 29 he felt it pop as he was landing following a leap early in practice. He immediately feared the worst, and a subsequent magnetic resonance imaging exam revealed the tear.
But UW doctors prescribed rest, not surgery. That means Kemp will still have the opportunity to reach his goals this season of being the Huskies' leading rebounder and "scrap guy."
"Oh, yeah, when they told me I didn't have to have surgery and have to be out nine to 12 months, I was relieved," Kemp said.
Romar said Kemp's loss won't have a huge impact on the playing rotation because he can plug Desmond Simmons, Jernard Jarreau and Martin Breunig into Kemp's so-called "four" position.
"But it impacts a guy that was turning the corner in becoming an offensive weapon," Romar said. "He had become probably our best low-post threat in terms of bigs.
"It takes away from what we were doing earlier, because he was playing really well."
Kemp dragged his right leg into a first-row chair behind the baseline at Alaska Airlines Arena before practice Tuesday. He said his rehabilitation will begin in earnest next week and will eventually progress to biking and jogging.
"This year, I felt like I had a good chance to break out, but ..." he said, with a shrug.
The Huskies open Romar's 11th season at UW on Sunday at 5 p.m. at Alaska Airlines Arena against Loyola, Md., in the opening round of the Hall of Fame Tip-off Tournament. Loyola went 24-9 and finished second to Iona in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference last season.
Romar said he's settled on his four most experienced players as starters Sunday: point guard Abdul Gaddy, wings Scott Suggs and C.J. Wilcox, plus 7-foot center Aziz N'Diaye.
The fifth starter will either be Simmons, Breunig or Jarreau, with slashing guard Andrew Andrews expected to be the first Husky off the bench.