Notre Dame men's basketball: Katenda shelved again

TOM NOIE
South Bend Tribune

Despite all of the injury obstacles that surfaced since he last played in an actual basketball game more than two years ago, Notre Dame sophomore power forward Eric Katenda still believed he could contribute this season.

Instead, he's sidelined with another injury that will cost him a good chunk of much-needed practice time.

Irish coach Mike Brey indicated prior to Saturday's workout that the 6-foot-9, 230-pound Katenda will miss at least the next six weeks following Friday's microfracture knee surgery.

“He kind of strained it,” Brey said. “I just feel so sorry for him. He's just not had much luck on the injury front.”

Katenda, who has yet to so much as dress in uniform for an Irish game since signing in the spring of 2011, was hurt late last week in practice simply by coming to a jump-stop during a drill. It's the same way former Irish forwards Tim Abromaitis and Scott Martin suffered season-ending knee injuries.

“He's lucky in that a lot of the microfracture surgeries are six months,” Brey said. “This is more of six weeks.”

Had he been able to stay relatively healthy for another week, Katenda had a chance to show what he could do in Monday's exhibition opener against Division-II Indianapolis. With fellow power forward Zach Auguste sidelined with a broken bone in his left hand, Katenda could have played in his first Irish game.

Instead, he's on the shelf again. This time it's for six weeks, which for Katenda, who really needs practice reps to prove he can play, it may feel more like six months.

“It's a long time,” Brey said. “But we need him back, at least in practice. We need that big body back.”

A native of Paris, Katenda averaged 15.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, 3.0 blocks, 2.0 assists and 2.0 steals as a senior in high school during the 2010-11 season.

Months after Katenda signed with Notre Dame, he lost vision in his left eye when his optic nerve was severed after being poked on a Washington basketball court. Able to overcome the limited vision, Katenda also has battled foot, knee and wrist ailments. He underwent offseason surgery to relieve plantar fasciitis.

“There will be a time when I'm out there and I'll be like nothing ever happened,” Katenda told the Tribune earlier this fall. “Let the doubters doubt. They're going to see me soon enough.”

Notre Dame forward Eric Katenda will be sideline for six weeks with a knee injury. SBT Photo/JAMES BROSHER