Because Arizona’s Christmas break this week is only three days long, Kaleb Tarczewski opted against returning home to New Hampshire.
That turned out to work perfectly for the Wildcats.
UA trainer Justin Kokoskie has hardly let Tarczewski out of his sight since the sophomore center significantly sprained his right ankle on Dec. 14 at Michigan.
“It looks like he’ll spend the holidays with the Kokoskie family,” Kokoskie said five days after Tarczewski suffered the injury.
Kokoskie was kidding, naturally.
But while Tarczewski was allowed a little space to see friends and family members who were nearby on Christmas, the truth is that he always has rehab work to do. At school and at home.
His injury, which UA aims to heal fully before the Jan. 2 start of Pac-12 play, demands that kind of attention.
“If you hurt your ankle, sometimes it doesn’t come back right away and what we want to do is just be cautious in our approach with him,” UA coach Sean Miller said.
“By the time we get back together and lead into the conference, I would say he’ll be as close to 100 percent as we can have him.
“We’re all anxious to have him back.”
So even over UA’s mini-vacation, which will end with a practice Friday evening, Tarczewski was logging up to seven or eight hours a day of rehabilitation work at Arizona under Kokoskie’s supervision.
Here’s how Kokoskie described Tarczewski’s recent workload:
“He’s doing a pretty comprehensive rehab every day. It’ll be more advanced (this week), more into basketball-specific things. Some ankle injuries you can’t prevent, so what we want to do is strengthen up the ankle, and get as much stability in the area as we can with the surrounding muscle. When you have an ankle injury, a lot of the muscles and surrounding structure want to shut down.
“We’re in a preventive mode now. We have him running underwater, and it’s a combination of a lot of stretching activity, a lot of proprioception (awareness of movement), and post-treatment we use a combination of hot and cold. We try to mix it up. We want to keep it interesting and fun for him.
“Maybe we’ll scale it down a little. But he also has an at-home thing where there’s different exercises and it’s a matter of me calling and making sure he’s doing what he’s supposed to do.
“We’re at the time of year where we’re a little beat up. Everybody can point to a different body part that’s sore. We’re still gonna do what we can to get the guys healthy at the break, recharge their brains and some of them have a lot of rehab and exercise to do. It’s a chance to get back and do the things that keep you healthy.
“Kaleb has been great. He shows up early and stays late. He does a great job. He’s eager to get back. But also he knows he has to come back strong. So when he does come back, he wants to be ready.”