Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012 | 6:35 p.m.
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The feeling of his right elbow dislocating from its socket when Cal’s Brandon Smith fell on top of it during a scramble for the ball didn’t really hurt, UNLV junior Mike Moser said. The intense pain came when trainers popped it back into place while Moser was still on the court.
As gruesome as the injury looked back on Dec. 9, Moser began his rehab the day after UNLV returned from that trip. The original prognosis called for about four weeks of recovery time. On Wednesday he was a full participant in practice for the first time since suffering the injury, a sign that Moser may be ready to compete in a home game on Jan. 3 or Jan. 5, or at least that he’s on track to return at New Mexico on Jan. 9, which is exactly one month after the Cal game.
“He’s worked hard with his rehab and we’ll just see,” UNLV coach Dave Rice said. “He’s day-to-day. He’s got a ways to go to be in game shape.”
Rice didn’t completely rule him out of Saturday’s game at North Carolina, but Moser did, saying there’s “no way” he would be able to play. Wednesday was a big step in his recovery, but it’s still just a step. Speaking with media for the first time since suffering the injury, Moser said it felt like there were electric pulses pumping into his elbow, or that it had about 10 of its own heartbeats. The swelling is down — two days after the incident his right elbow looked nearly twice the size of his left — but he still doesn’t have a full range of motion.
The fact that he’s even this close, though, is remarkable. Some people who saw the injury thought it could sideline him for the rest of the season. Now, about two and a half weeks later, he’s on the court banging around in the paint against UNLV’s front court. Those guys took it easy on him, which the Rebels can’t expect from opponents, but it’s still positive that Moser made it through unscathed.
“It’s important for him to get some confidence in there that it’s not something he’s going to reinjure,” Rice said.
In other injury-related news, senior guard Anthony Marshall watched most of practice after re-aggravating a strained calf in last Saturday’s victory against Canisius. Rice said it wouldn’t keep Marshall from playing against North Carolina.
Moser got practice time at both the 3 and 4 positions, something that’s likely to continue. With Anthony Bennett and Khem Birch playing so well in the paint, Moser may get even more time on the perimeter than originally expected.
The rotation will play itself out when Moser returns to the lineup. The good news for UNLV is that that day may be coming sooner than later.