Ducks’ center N’Faly Dante has been out of commission since the start of the season. Playing in only 27 minutes of the first game this season, he had to exit the court early with a knee injury.
In late November, Dante had to get surgery to repair the damage. He has since made leaps and bounds in his recovery efforts.
Since his injury, along the a few other teammates hitting the IR, the Ducks have had to lean heavily on the younger players to carry the work load.
On Tuesday, Dante was spotted doing some light practice under the basket at Matt Knight Arena – the first time any non-team members have seen Dante hooping in months.
Head coach Dana Altman has yet to explicitly share if Dante will make an appearance against the Cal Golden Bears on Saturday but fans remain hopeful that he’ll return soon.
Currently, Oregon is the only remaining undefeated Pac-12 team in conference play sitting at 4-0, 12-3 overall. The team will be coming off of a week-long break from games when they take the court Saturday evening.
Odds are that even if Dante makes it back on the court, his playing time would be extremely limited to ensure that no further injuries occur.
Fellow center Nate Bittle also had to undergo surgery in late November and was initially categorized as out for the season. However, Altman has recently said that he’s more optimistic about Bittle’s return and is hopeful that he will see playing time again before the season concludes.
While Bittle is not expected to return quite yet, and neither is Jesse Zarzuela, the Ducks aren't entirely without the experience of veteran players.
Jermaine Couisnard, senior guard, has taken on the entirety of the leadership role that was expected to be shared between him and Dante in their final season with the Ducks.
If Dante and Bittle can both make it back to action before the Pac-12 tournament, it bodes very well for the Ducks getting a chance to go dancing in March.