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Cedric Martin put on a brave face Saturday. He started against Colorado and struggled through 24 minutes, scoring three points. After that game, he hobbled out of the locker room, putting little weight on his right foot, which is affected by plantar fasciitis, inflammation of the arch tissue.
"Feels bad," Martin said. "It's hurting bad."
The guard is one of just two players two start each game for the Utes, and has been a pleasant surprise in his first year in the program after transferring from Lee College. A Minneapolis native, Martin has stepped into a starting role, become the Utes top defender and averages 6.5 point per game, although he's proven himself capable of scoring much more.
But there's no hiding the impact the plantar fasciitis is having on his game, especially from his coach, who has experienced it himself.
Larry Krystkowiak suffered from plantar fasciitis in 1993 while he played for the Utah Jazz.
Martin has been limited in practice the last week. He did not practice Friday, and has not practiced since the Colorado game. Krystkowiak said the junior will likely practice once or twice a week in addition to playing in games.
But he acknowledged it might take more than that.
"We might have to find a spot in our season where we can take a couple of weeks in our season to just shut him down," Krystkowiak said.
Krystkowiak said that timeframe would allow the Utes' training staff to focus specialized treatment on the injury, whereas now the remedy is rest.
Martin is like most players: He'd rather play through it. Junior guard Chris Hines played three games with a broken thumb before Krystkowiak forced him to the bench to let the bone heal.
"When we told [Martin] maybe he needed to take some time off he said he didn't want to miss any games, he'd prefer not to miss any practices," Krystkowiak said. "Guys that want to play end up not healing. So you kind of have to be wise for them."
The alternative is surgery, which isn't particularly common, in which doctor slice open the plantar fascia to release tension and let it grow back stronger.
Krystkowiak played through the injury in 1993, he said, and ended up tearing the arch.
"I basically went through the surgical procedure on the court," Krystkowiak said.
Other injuries • The Utes were so low on guards last week that assistant coach Tommy Connor was running plays with the second unit.
It wasn't such a stretch, Connor was the Utes' starting point guard for four seasons. That was also more than 20 years ago.
But with walk-on Alex Mortenson suffering from a concussion, Hines out indefinitely with a broken thumb, Martin resting his foot and Glen Dean home in Seattle recovering from his well-documented brain surgery, the Utes' had few options.
Mortenson returned to practice with the Utes this week and Krystkowiak said Hines may be on track to return in a few weeks.
"He isn't hurting it as much because we're not letting him catch balls," Krystkowiak said. "Hopefully if we can get his pain level in the next few weeks we could maybe see him."