Noriega, Abdul-Aleem could take medical redshirts
USF senior guard Shaun Noriega, out for the past six weeks with a stress fracture in his foot, may not play again this season, coach Stan Heath said Monday, though the former starter would be eligible for a medical redshirt.
"I don't know if Shaun's going to return," Heath said as the Bulls practiced for a game Wednesday night at Seton Hall. "He's still not ready to go. We've used so much time that I don't know if, by the time he got ready to go, it would help him. We're going to look at different scenarios for him and talk about different things."
In USF's first eight games, Noriega was averaging 8.4 points and 20.8 minutes per game, both career highs, but he hasn't played since the Bulls' loss at Oklahoma State on Dec. 5. Complicating matters, sophomore guard Musa Abdul-Aleem, whose delayed arrival due to his own foot injury had coincided with Noriega's injury, is now out again with back problems and has not played in USF's last two games.
"Musa may do the same thing. He's going to take some time, see if it gets to a point where he can play on it," Heath said. "There's no timetable on either player right now."
Abdul-Aleem, like Noriega, played in only eight games and should be eligible for a medical redshirt; he sat out last season with a foot injury, so he would be in position to apply for a sixth year of eligibility.
One potential complication for the Bulls -- Heath has already signed six players to join the team next season, so if Noriega were to return next year, the Bulls could be short one scholarship if everyone returned as expected. "Things get figured out," Heath said. "The math always works out."
With those two out, USF has gotten solid production from freshman JaVontae Hawkins, who has averaged 10.3 points per game in the last three games and is now in the starting lineup. Hawkins had totaled 17 points in USF's first 14 games.