Shavon Shields won’t play for the Nebraska men’s basketball team on Wednesday at Wisconsin, and when the senior forward will return, well, nobody knows for certain.
“We just want him to make a full recovery and a speedy recovery,” Nebraska coach Tim Miles said after Tuesday’s practice, and before his team caught a charter flight to Madison, Wisconsin.
Shields, who suffered a concussion in Saturday’s home victory over Rutgers, wasn’t on that plane.
He’s at his Lincoln home, resting and recovering from a serious fall that sent him to a hospital. The Academic All-American has not attended class or practice.
Shields banged his head and neck on the court and was knocked unconscious with 8:48 remaining in the game. He regained consciousness after about a minute and had feeling and movement in his extremities as he was taken off the court via gurney.
A CT scan was negative, but Shields must complete a series of steps as part of Nebraska’s concussion protocol before he can return.
“He has great moments and not-so-good moments,” said Miles, who’s kept in regular contact with Shields’ mother, Senia, who’s staying with her son.
Nobody knows for certain the severity of the injury, so with that in mind, is there a possibility Shields doesn’t return, period?
“I don’t know,” Miles said. “I do not know.”
Shields, who averages 15.7 points and five rebounds, has made 106 consecutive starts. The school record is 111, held by Dave Hoppen, the school's all-time leading scorer, from 1983-86.
The record would have likely been Shields’ by now had he not suffered an elbow injury that led to a staph infection early in his freshman season.
“It’s a bummer for him,” Miles said. “But he’s going to be all over our record book and end up having a (Nebraska) Hall of Fame-type of career, I hope.”
Shields, meanwhile, became the first Husker men’s basketball player named to the Allstate NABC Good Works Teams, announced Tuesday.
The award, in its fourth year, honors college basketball athletes who have dedicated themselves to bettering the lives of others through giving back to their communities. Only five NCAA Division I players make the team.
“It says a lot about his character,” Miles said.
Freshman forward Jack McVeigh will make his first career start in place of Shields. McVeigh, shooting 36.4 percent from the field, including 32.4 percent on three-pointers, has been Shields’ primary backup. Miles wanted to keep the rotation as similar as possible, the reason he’s giving McVeigh the nod.
“We met as a staff and we looked at bigger options, smaller options, how those rotations looked over the course of a half, what about foul trouble,” Miles said. “Wisconsin draws the most fouls of anybody in the league right now. I think you have to consider everything.”
Wisconsin (14-9, 6-4 Big Ten Conference) has won five straight games under interim coach Greg Gard, a longtime assistant who took over in December when veteran coach Bo Ryan announced his immediate retirement.
“He looks like a Big Ten head coach to me," Miles said of Gard. "That team has gotten better. He has developed role guys. He’s got back to an identity that he believes strongly in. For him to go back to the simplicity of the swing offense, I think he’s done an outstanding job.”
Nebraska (13-11, 5-6) will try to build on momentum from its 87-63 victory over last-place Rutgers despite missing its senior captain against Wisconsin. Miles’ message to his players, he said, is simple — do your job, don’t be a hero and concentrate on getting better as a team.
Gard, at his Monday news conference, expects Nebraska to rally.
“You know, sometimes when teams have adversity like that hit, or they have somebody get banged up and can't play, especially a prominent player like (Shields), a lot of times it fortifies or makes them a little stronger,” Gard said, “because it forces them to circle the wagons a little tighter or rally the troops, and I've seen that happen with our team at times."