CEDAR FALLS — Northern Iowa men’s basketball coach Ben Jacobson announced Sunday the Panthers will not play their two remaining non-conference games against Wisconsin and Marshall and have paused basketball activities.
Jacobson also announced separately to The Gazette that junior guard AJ Green will have season-ending hip surgery on Tuesday in Colorado.
The 15th-year head coach cited his players’ well-being and safety, along with the roster’s numerous injuries to cancel the games and pause activities in a statement Sunday. He told The Gazette his team had mixed emotions to the news.
“Competitively this isn’t something that you would want to do, or you would ever do, (with) the opportunity to play at Wisconsin and an opportunity to return that game to Marshall,” he said. “But, at the other side of it with Antwan’s (Kimmons) situation, Goanar’s (Mar) situation, the number of injuries and just where we’re at from a roster standpoint our guys understand that this is the right decision and the best decision.
“Just talking with them this morning as much as they want to play those two games I could certainly feel a sense of just a little bit of a deep breath.”
Austin Phyfe (ankle) and Evan Gauger (knee) joined Green, Kimmons (leave of absence) and Tytan Anderson (knee) on the injury report after the loss to Richmond on Tuesday, leaving Jacobson with just seven scholarship players. Mar has not been ruled eligible after transferring from George Mason.
Green’s surgery will repair a fracture in his hip, along with a labrum tear and some bone spurs. A timeline for his recovery isn’t expected until he returns home from the operation. A discussion on filing for a medical redshirt has yet to happen due to the extra year of eligibility from the COVID-19 pandemic.
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“Discussions and research with a number of different people for AJ and the family — (they) got all the information they needed to be able to make the decision,” Jacobson said. “And one that I know they feel good about. I know AJ feels good about it. Knowing they’re having the surgery done at the right place with the right doctors. Then also, knowing that we’ve got a plan.”
Jacobson is expecting Phyfe will return to practice in full or slightly limited capacity when practice resumes on Friday. Meanwhile, Gauger’s return date isn’t as clear and he was described as “day to day.”
UNI also is hopeful Mar will return to practice along with Phyfe on Friday. The NCAA Division I council is scheduled to vote Wednesday on immediate eligibility for all college basketball transfers this season. Mar’s waiver request and appeal were denied by the NCAA over the past two months.
The Panthers (1-4) are scheduled to begin Missouri Valley Conference play Dec. 27 at home against Missouri State.