Avert your eyes from Matt Howard's face

February, 8, 2011
2/08/11
2:00
PM ET
Never let anyone tell you basketball isn't a physical sport. Not that anyone would. Unless they were, like, a high school wrestler, who in my experience seem to think their Greco-Roman grab-fests are the purest form of athletic competition known to man. Most of these guys still have cauliflower ear. Gross.

Case in point: No amount of puffy ear distortion is quite as gross as what Butler forward Matt Howard suffered Monday night, however. As you can see in this video from Indianapolis' Fox 59 TV, Howard caught a nasty elbow on a screen from a UIC player fighting through Howard's back screen. The contact was incidental, but the elbow caught Howard just above his right eye, which proceeded to bleed more profusely than an extra on "Spartacus: Gods Of The Arena."

The question is whether the blow will cause Howard to miss any time. Butler is currently monitoring the senior forward -- who is arguably having the best season of his career -- for concussion symptoms, and there's a chance he could have to sit out for a game or two in the coming days. That's a another tough blow for the disappointing, injury-riddled Bulldogs.

The question is whether Howard needs to be on the floor for the rest of the regular season or not. You can make the argument that Butler is already too far outside the bubble picture to get in the tournament as anything other than an automatic qualifier, and even if Howard could be rushed back, maybe it wouldn't be the worst idea to rest him for a few games in advance of that all-important Horizon League tournament. Butler is off the Bubble Watch today, after all. But this bubble is so incredibly soft that it's not impossible the Bulldogs could warrant some consideration if they can win out the rest of the way. They do have a more impressive set of wins than many of the other mid-major at-large candidates in the field. Frankly, they just need more wins. (And no more bad losses. We're looking at you, Youngstown State.)

Either way, let's hope Howard gets that eye patched up and shakes off any wooziness he might be feeling sooner rather than later. Whether Butler "needs" him right now is almost beside the point. Howard has just a few games left in his Butler career, and it'd be a shame to see him miss any of that time thanks to a freak accident on the court.

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