Even with Kendall Marshall reportedly having surgery on his fractured wrist Monday, he could still play in the NCAA tournament but time is of the essence for the North Carolina point guard, an expert in hand and wrist injuries said.
Dr. Christopher Sforzo, a Florida-based orthopedic surgeon who works extensively with professional tennis players, told ESPN.com there were basically two options -- immediate surgery, which would stabilize the wrist and give Marshall a chance to play, or to play with a cast.
“It’s a roll of the dice either way,’’ Sforzo said. “If he’s going to have surgery, it would have to be first thing in the morning.’’
Scaphoid fractures are common, especially involving a fall and treatment depends on where the break is, Sforzo said.
If the fracture is at the end of the bone, where the blood supply is best, the bone can heal quickly and usually a cast or splint is all that’s required.
If the break is in the middle or at the beginning of the bone, surgery is typically required, with a screw inserted to stabilize the bone.
Neither scenario is ideal.
“If he wanted to play, it would be difficult with a cast and he’d risk that the bone could move and then he’d need surgery,’’ Sforzo said. “And it would be painful. I wouldn’t say it would be heroic for him to play under those circumstances, but it would be very difficult.
“[With] surgery, in some regards it’s better because the bone is stabilized and there’s no risk. But could he play in four days?’’
But North Carolina, obviously, is up against the clock. The No. 1 seed Tar Heels play Ohio in the Sweet 16 on Friday.
And Marshall is not just any player; he’s a point guard, with the ball in his hand for the bulk of the game.
“His jump shot wouldn’t be a problem,’’ Sforzo said. “But it’s still tough for him to handle the ball with that off hand, to push off and dribble. It’s an interesting conundrum and a real tough break for him, especially at this time of year. Maybe he could play this week, maybe by Saturday if you want to hope you get there. Or do you wait until the Final Four? There's no easy answer.''