Friday, October 31, 2008

Joe Smith Wearing a Facemask

If you're tuning in to watch the Oklahoma City Thunder this season, you may not immediately recognize one of Maryland's most famous ex-Terps. Joe Smith (1993-95) is wearing a facemask to begin this season after having his nose fractured in a pre-season game last month:

Smith wasn't so comfortable Friday, admitting he was hesitant in traffic. But he took two shots to the face against the Lakers that gave him confidence he could survive blows when mixing it up in the lane.

"I just got to get used to being in the paint and being around a lot of bodies again," Smith said.

Smith's role becomes more important if Nick Collison and Chris Wilcox don't get healthy. Wilcox missed his second consecutive game Friday because of a strained hamstring. [...]

Perhaps Smith's biggest hurdle will be learning to play with a new set of teammates after only 44 minutes of preseason action and very few practice hours while protecting his injury.

Smith's teammate, Chris Wilcox (2000-02), did indeed heal up after the above story was written and led the Thunder with 15 points in their first regular season game.

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