DeKALB – When Xavier Silas showed his injured right hand to reporters after this past Friday’s loss at Northwestern, the discoloration made it look like a crayon box mauled by kindergartners, but the Northern Illinois guard didn’t believe at the time that it was broken.
Monday morning, after an X-ray, it turned out the second metacarpal bone on his shooting hand was fractured on a second-half foul by Northwestern’s Jeremy Nash. Silas will be out for at least two weeks, starting with tonight’s 7 p.m. game at Illinois. The injury does not require surgery, but his hand will be placed in a removable splint.
Silas said after Friday’s game that he couldn’t make a fist with the hand, and that continued throughout the weekend.
“That’s how I knew,” Silas said. “When you saw it, it was all swollen. It never went down. I was icing it and it never really felt better. It didn’t get numb.”
Silas said he talked with a hand specialist on Monday, who estimated that the hand would be healed in three weeks. The NIU junior will be re-evaluated on Dec. 1 before a return date is set. The Huskies play four games in the next two weeks, including a home game with Bradley on Dec. 2. After Bradley, the Huskies don’t play for 13 days until they travel to Minnesota.
Silas, who scored 18 points in 26 minutes and fouled out in NIU’s 77-55 loss to the Wildcats, said because the hand will not be in a hard cast, he will be able to do range of motion drills to try and keep from getting rusty.
“If [the fracture were] higher, I would have to have a hard cast on and that would really be bad,” Silas said.
Freshman guard Tony Nixon will start in Silas’ place tonight against the Illini.
Nixon made his collegiate debut against Northwestern and totaled four points on a three-pointer and a free throw, to go along with three rebounds in 26 minutes.
“I wasn’t that nervous,” Nixon said. “I was just excited to be out there as a freshman playing.”
NIU coach Ricardo Patton said he thought Nixon played OK against Northwestern but the more Nixon plays, the more the freshman should improve and adjust to the college game.
“I think it will be good for him to get some quality minutes early on,” Patton said. “If he’s going to become the player I think he can become, he’s got to be thrown in the fire.”
In the meantime, Silas will be forced to watch from the sidelines as he tries to make it back to the court.
“Everything happens for a reason, though,” Silas said. “I’m just going to keep my head up, support my teammates. They’re going into a battle tonight.”