Marcus Bartley has no concerns about getting the feeling back in his right hand after sitting out the past four-and-a-half weeks with a broken bone in his wrist.
The 6-foot-5, 193-pound junior could make his long-awaited debut for the SIU men's basketball team this weekend if things go well. Bartley didn't require surgery to repair the approximate 3-millimeter fracture, but had to wear a cast for about two weeks. He had to wait patiently the next two weeks as the two bones fused themselves together, but his journey from Decatur to Saint Louis University to Carbondale could soon begin.
Bartley started dribbling up the floor with his left hand last week, has done some conditioning work in the SIU Rec Center pool and the SIU Arena steps, and could start developing the dexterity in his shot this week.
"We haven't really talked about that, but I'm not really worried about it," Bartley said prior to SIU's game at Louisville Nov. 21. "Once you play basketball, it's just like riding a bike, once you get back to it."
The Salukis (2-2) can't wait for Bartley to get back to it. One of the top 3-point shooters in the Atlantic 10, Bartley could give SIU a taller point guard that can see over ballscreens and add to an already long perimeter defense. The Salukis have forced 30 steals in four games and have 48 assists to 55 turnovers on offense.
SIU coach Barry Hinson believes Bartley could make a big impact at both ends of the floor when he returns, but didn't want to put too many expectations on a guy that hasn't played a game with his new team yet. Bartley hasn't played in an official game since the Billikens lost 73-65 to George Washington on March 10, 2016, at the Atlantic 10 Tournament. He sat out last season per NCAA transfer rules and will have two years of eligibility at SIU.
"The things that he does are things that you don't always see, because when you have a 6-5 point guard that can see and know how the game is supposed to be played, and he is a competitor," Hinson said. "He is a fiery competitor, and I'm really excited to get him out on the floor and have you guys see him play."
Aaron Cook has filled in admirably for Bartley. The 6-2, 185-pound sophomore scored a career-high 20 points in SIU's win over Division II Illinois-Springfield and played one of his best games as a Saluki Saturday night at Murray State. Cook had four assists and one turnover in 31 minutes, and added two of SIU's nine steals and eight points on 4-of-9 shooting.
Cook's four rebounds tied for the second-most on the team in the 81-73 loss to the Racers.
When he returns, Bartley will give SIU an older, longer point guard that opponents will have to respect on the perimeter. He'll also give the Salukis another voice in the huddle.
"I'm dying to get back on the court," Bartley said. "It feels like it's been forever, but God has a plan for everybody. It's just part of my journey, and I'll definitely be ready when the time comes."
* Rosignol in NCAA Tournament with Pittsburgh: Former Saluki volleyball player Alex Rosignol will be in the NCAA Tournament this weekend with Pittsburgh.
The 25-6 Panthers won a share of their first ACC championship in school history this year, tying with Louisville, and will open the tournament Friday against VCU (30-2) in State College, Pennsylvania. The winner will face the winner of the other match in their four-team pod, No. 1 Penn State (29-1) and Howard (16-15).
Rosignol, a former all-conference middle blocker for the Salukis, started eight of 31 matches this season at Pittsburgh. She has 52 blocks, three of them solos, and 36 kills in 90 sets this season.