MURRAY, Ky. -- Murray State forward Ivan Aska said Monday that he's been cleared to return after missing the last six games with a broken right hand for the nation's only undefeated men's Division I basketball team.
"I couldn't sleep last night just knowing that I had to go see the doctor," Aska said. "I'm very happy to be back."
Aska is a starter and the leading rebounder for the Racers (No. 9 ESPN/USA Today, No. 11 AP), but broke the hand in the first half of a victory at Eastern Illinois on Dec. 30. The Racers (20-0, 8-0 Ohio Valley Conference) have a rematch with Eastern Illinois at home on Saturday.
"A lot of key rebounds that we really haven't been getting when we needed them, we know he's going to handle that. Those are the rebounds we usually get," point guard Isaiah Canaan said. "Just to have another big body down low, another bull down low to get rebounds when we need them is great."
Murray State was outrebounded in four of the six games Aska missed, but the 6-foot-7 forward said he had confidence that the Racers wouldn't lose when he grabbed the team to the side shortly after his injury with a message.
"I had confidence and I knew they were going to keep on winning because I had a long talk with all the players," Aska said. "They did the things they had to do and held themselves accountable. They just went hard every game."
Aska averaged 12.6 points and six rebounds in his first 14 games. The senior had played in 113 consecutive games before the injury.
"They showed what a team is all about," Aska said. "That's the real meaning of team -- if one of your leaders is out, you still have a team bond that everybody stepped it up another notch since you've been gone."