Injury sidelines Lay for season
By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer
The drama-filled season of the University of Hawai'i men's basketball team added yet another chapter yesterday.
Once again, the theme was tragedy.
Point guard Jeremy Lay became the latest in a long list of casualties for the Rainbow Warriors when it was announced that he will miss the rest of this season due to a hernia injury.
Lay said he had been playing the entire season with the injury. The pain increased in recent weeks, and in a visit with the UH medical staff yesterday, surgery was recommended.
"They actually said I needed surgery at the start (of the season)," Lay said. "But they also said there was a 50-50 chance I could make it through the season, so I took the chance."
Lay appeared in all 23 games this season, and recently emerged as a starter.
He will finish his junior season with averages of 8.4 points and 2.3 assists per game. In his last six games — all as a starter — Lay averaged 10.0 points and 4.0 assists per game.
"I don't regret playing because I felt I could help the team," Lay said. "I wasn't able to do as much as I would have liked, but that's part of the game."
Lay refused to use the injury as an excuse for some of his subpar statistics, including a .299 field goal percentage.
"Yeah (the injury) was kept undercover, but I wasn't saying anything when things were going well," he said. "So I can't look back now and say I was hurt, that's why I wasn't doing as much. It was my choice to play."
Lay is scheduled to undergo surgery in two weeks, and the recovery time is expected to be six to eight weeks.
"I'll be back, better and stronger next year," the 6-foot junior said.
Hawai'i head coach Bob Nash said: "It's a credit to him that he wanted to play and fight through it. It's just unfortunate that it got worse here recently and surgery became the only option."
Lay's absence leaves the 'Bows with few options in the backcourt as they enter the stretch run of the regular season.
Hawai'i, which is 9-14 and on a five-game losing streak, is scheduled to depart Honolulu tomorrow for a two-game road trip. The 'Bows will play at Louisiana Tech on Saturday, then at New Mexico State on Monday.
The 'Bows will have just 11 players available on the trip, including three walk-ons.
Junior guard Dwain Williams is still serving an indefinite suspension, and will miss at least the two road games, if not more.
"He's still on suspension," is all Nash would say about that situation.
What's more, starting point guard Hiram Thompson has been playing the last week with an injured left shoulder.
Sophomore Leroy Lutu Jr. — one of the walk-ons — will likely see increased playing time. Forwards Roderick Flemings and Adhar Mayen will also have to play more as guards.
Nash said seldom-used walk-on guards Rykin Enos and Beau Albrechtson will travel and may have to be ready for relief roles.
"Every healthy body needs to be ready to play," Nash said.
Virtually every player on the roster has had an injury to deal with this season.
"I don't even know what to say about that," Lay said. "It's been one thing after another."
Most significant, forward Bill Amis was lost for the season with a foot injury in November. Among the other key players to miss time this season are Flemings (knee), Petras Balocka (shoulder), Paul Campbell (back) and Thompson (concussion).
"It's unusual to have so many in one year," Nash said. "It's never happened in all the years since I've been here. But that's something that's out of my control. We still have games to play and we still have to put a team on the floor, so we'll do what we have to do."