Bender May Miss Men's Basketball Opener at Fairbanks

Nov. 14, 2001

SEATTLE - Men's basketball coach Bob Bender may miss Washington's regular-season opening game at Alaska Fairbanks and freshman point guard Will Conroy has been declared eligible to play in Thursday's game.

Bender slipped and fell outside his house on Monday and developed a sore back. He attended practice on Tuesday despite the pain that increased in intensity throughout that night.

Bender went in Wednesday morning to be examined at University Hospital. He was diagnosed with a bruised rib and released in the afternoon. No internal organs were bruised as originally suspected, but he was still in a great deal of pain.

The team arrived in Fairbanks Wednesday afternoon without Bender and Conroy, who was cleared to play by the NCAA Clearinghouse.

Conroy will take an early flight from Seattle to Fairbanks on Thursday morning and will be available for the game that evening at 8 p.m. Pacific Time (7 p.m. Alaska Time). Joining Conroy on the flight will be assistant coach Eric Hughes who remained in Seattle to be with Bender.

It is uncertain if Bender will be on that same flight. He will decide in the morning whether to travel to Fairbanks Thursday in time for the opening game or to wait until Friday.

The Huskies are participating in the eight-team Top of the World Classic. After playing the host Nanooks on Thursday, UW has Friday off and plays either Mississippi or Bowling Green on Saturday at 1 p.m. PST. The tournament concludes on Sunday.

Bender is beginning his ninth season at Washington, having compiled a 105-124 record. His 105 victories rank No. 4 among all-time UW coaches.

Conroy was ruled ineligible on Nov. 1 by the NCAA Clearinghouse that was examining his high school transcript. He was unable to participate in games or practice with the team while the Clearinghouse determined whether a course he took at Seattle's Garfield High School qualified under the 'core course' criteria.

Washington filed a wavier on Friday that enabled Conroy to return to practice on Saturday. On Wednesday the school received written confirmation from the Clearinghouse that had approved Conroy's transcript.

A 6-foot-1 guard, Conroy intended to walk-on with the Huskies, but was awarded a scholarship when one became available on Oct. 1.

He was rated the No. 15 point guard in the West by Pac-West Hoops. Conroy averaged 14.5 points, 3.6 assists and 2.0 steals per game during his senior season, helping Garfield to a 27-2 record. The Bulldogs were ranked No. 1 in the state for most of the 2001 season before suffering an 85-82 double-overtime loss to Foss in the first round of the state tournament.

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