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Monday, January 11, 2010

Leuer's Surgery Set For Tuesday

Right or wrong, one of Wisconsin's biggest victories of the year suddenly seems like a consolation prize.

Even though Jon Leuer played 38 minutes in #17 Wisconsin's huge win over #4 Purdue [box score] that put the Badgers firmly in the Big Ten championship hunt, the university confirmed today that the junior forward will be out of action indefinitely with a fracture in his non-shooting (left) hand. Leuer is scheduled to have surgery to repair the bone on Tuesday.

Leuer has developed into one of the toughest matchups in the conference and is arguably Wisconsin's best scorer. Watching Leuer grow into his role as a go-to player on this team have been one of the most enjoyable facets of the season thus far. Unfortunately, he now joins a list of marquee names from Big Ten teams to be sidelined for a significant time this season. I suppose one reason for optimism is that if one of your best players is going to suffer a major injury, it might as well be in the same year as Kevin Coble, Evan Turner, Lewis Jackson and Maurice Creek.

Another silver lining is that if Wisconsin maintains its composure and makes the NCAA tournament as we all expect, the team could getting one of the biggest pre-tournament boosts of any team in the country just in time for a deep run. Giving the wrist a fair 8-week timetable to heal, a 100% healthy Leuer could potentially return right around Big Ten tournament time to a UW team that may be flying under the radar. I'm sure the team would welcome the new challenge of reintegrating Leuer into the rotation.

However, if Leuer's progress is slow, this could end up being the most significant injury for the program since Alando Tucker missed nearly the entire 2003-04 season with a foot injury. Since Leuer is not eligible for the medical redshirt that Tucker took, we will all be keeping our fingers crossed that Leuer can make an impact on the court year again this season.

No one can replicate Leuer's experience or his exact value to Wisconsin, but a group of guys is certainly going to have to try to replace his production. I cannot imagine Jared Berggren would go from not playing straight to Bo Ryan's starting five, but that's a somewhat arbitrary distinction anyway. It seems like Ryan Evans or Jordan Taylor, fresh off his career-high 23-point showing, would be the best bets to step into the lineup.

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