Senior guard Alex Ruoff is expected to be back in the lineup when West Virginia and Miami of Ohio tip off at noon today. Ruoff dressed but did not play in either of WVU's two most recent games, a loss to Davidson in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden on December 9 and a win at Duquesne last Saturday night.
The issue, according to Ruoff, was a subluxed rib. West Virginia team physician Dr. Matthew Lively was able to rid Ruoff of the injury last weekend. He returned to practice for the first time on Monday.
"It was a subluxed rib that was causing a bunch of spasms. I had the rib pushed back in and it started to heal," Ruoff said on Friday. "Dr. Lively put me in some kind of position to push it back in. It hurt like crap. I'm better now. I still have a little bit of pain, but not enough to keep me out."
The injury originally happened during WVU's home win over Cleveland State on December 6.
"I landed on my back in the Cleveland State game," he recalled. "I just had to get the rib pushed back in. I just had to wait for the spasms to go away. It was from the back of my shoulder blade all the way back against my spine."
Ruoff's return will boost the depth of a backcourt that was dangerously thin in both the Davidson and Duquesne games. Aside from the senior's rib injury, junior point guard Joe Mazzulla is dealing with a growth plate fracture in his left shoulder. Mazzulla played six minutes against Davidson before aggravating the injury. He missed the win at Duquesne and will be out for the foreseeable future as he attempts to rehab the injury.
With both veterans out, sophomore Jonnie West would likely have seen increased minutes in the rotation. West, however, broke a bone in his foot the day prior to the Davidson game. He is out indefinitely.
Thus, head coach Bob Huggins will be more than happy to see his lone senior back in the lineup for today's game. The weeklong break between games is also a plus as Ruoff has had plenty of time to work his way back into basketball shape since returning to practice on Monday.
"Monday when I first came back, it was rough," he admitted. "It felt like my heart was going to explode. I did a couple of sprints and I'm back now. I don't feel any different.
"I'm not worried about it," he continued. "I'm just anxious to come back out there. I'll probably get out there and be too anxious and too excited, but as long as I get out there I'm fine."