North Carolina’s Travis Wear was seemingly gaining confidence and comfort with his role on the current UNC squad with every game in which he appeared as the season progressed. Through a combination of his own progression as a player and some team injuries, Wear had worked his way up to being Roy Williams‘ first or second option off the bench. That’s going to have to wait, now, since Wear went up for a rebound during practice on Tuesday and came down on a teammate’s foot, spraining his left ankle badly enough to where he will not play against Duke on Wednesday. Imaging showed no fracture, but he’s said to be out indefinitely.
We’re guessing, though, that “indefinitely” in this case won’t be very long. We’re assuming this is a simple inversion sprain (where the ankle “rolls” and the bottom of the foot goes inward) as opposed to the slightly more serious eversion sprain (where the bottom of the foot goes outward as the ankle gives way). We know there’s no fracture. That said, Wear is looking at several days of what doctors (and eighth-grade health class teachers) call RICE therapy. That is: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Put less elegantly, Wear will stay off the ankle, ice it down, wrap it up in something like an ACE, and keep that baby on a couple of pillows as he watches practice or chills in his room. Throw in some anti-inflammatories, a couple of tricks from the UNC medical staff — make no mistake, these trainers and team docs are a crafty bunch — and some exercises to get back the flexibility and strength to the area, and we bet Wear will be good as new in no time.
You know what else helps injuries heal? Winning. We’re wagering that if UNC pulls off a stunner against Duke tonight and then grabs another win at home against North Carolina State this Saturday, that ankle will feel immediately better. We’re not saying Wear is milking the injury at all. We’re saying that if UNC reels off a couple of big wins and is suddenly back in the NCAA Tournament conversation, he’ll want to get back as quickly as he can to help.
Either way, this means Heels like Deon Thompson, William Graves, and Ed Davis will have to play a few more minutes and avoid foul trouble, or a couple of Travis Wear’s fellow freshmen — specifically John Henson and Travis’ brother David Wear — have just become more important to the Tar Heel cause.