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Brooks receives mixed blessing.

Byline: Bob Clark The Register-Guard

It will still be a couple of weeks - at least - before Aaron Brooks can play in a game, but the Oregon freshman point guard received clearance Thursday to begin rehabilitation for his right wrist, which had been in a cast since shortly after he suffered a broken bone on Jan. 4.

`It's obviously good news for us because he is on the road to getting back with us,' UO coach Ernie Kent said prior to practice.

Brooks differed slightly with his coach: `I'm not playing, so it's not good enough.'

Kent said `we still can't' give a firm date on when Brooks will play, though the soonest would be Feb. 19 in a home game against Arizona. That was also the original estimate for his earliest return after surgery was performed Jan. 6 to place surgical pins in the fractured hamate bone.

`It could be as early as two weeks, it could be three weeks or four weeks,' Kent said. `It depends on how quickly his body responds.'

If not somehow being cleared for Oregon's next game Saturday against Oregon State in McArthur Court, it was obvious that Brooks had held out hope he might play next Thursday when the Ducks are at Washington, a homecoming game for Brooks.

`I just want to get back for the Arizona game,' said Brooks, a prep all-American at Seattle's Franklin High School. `Seattle would have been nice, but I knew that would be a push to play that game.'

Instead of the cast he'd worn until it was removed Monday, Brooks will continue to wear a `soft splint,' which he can remove. He'll first work with a hand specialist to do physical therapy to regain strength and flexibility in his fingers and wrist.

`I can move my fingers real good,' Brooks said. `As far as squeezing, I don't know' because he hadn't yet taken off the protective splint.

By early next week, Kent said, `we hope he can start some basketball-related stuff ... catching and dribbling.'

Brooks has kept up his conditioning with extensive running while being out of action, and has done dribbling drills with his left hand and some shooting, though it was obviously awkward because of the cast on his right hand and arm. But when asked if there was any thought Brooks could play either against Washington or two days later in a game at Washington State, Kent was adamant that `no, he won't be playing next week.'

Brooks started Oregon's first nine games and averaged 6.7 points and 2.9 assists, playing 23.9 minutes per game. He played probably his best game on Jan. 2 at USC, with 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting, including 3-of-4 three-pointers, and also had four assists and two steals in 29 minutes.

In the first half of the next game, at UCLA, Brooks suffered the broken bone after punching the padded basket support, which he later said was `a dumb mistake.'
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Title Annotation:Sports; The UO freshman point guard is cleared to begin rehabilitation but will be out at least three more games
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Feb 6, 2004
Words:494
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