Before Wednesday’s loss to Utah, Kentucky forward Nate Sestina hadn’t made an appearence on the court since Nov. 24 during an 81-56 win over Lamar. The Bucknell transfer played well, but didn’t do anything spectacular – three points, five rebounds, and two assists in 18 minutes. No one knew he wouldn’t see the floor for nearly another month.
His hand required surgery following an incident in practice and all of the sudden the Wildcats lost its most vocal and veteran leader. It was expected that he would miss three-to-four weeks once he underwent surgery on the injured hand. Exactly three weeks later, Sestina made a somewhat surprising return to the rotation against Utah.
Sestina played just 10 minutes for the ‘Cats on Wednesday, recording one rebound and one block with one missed shot attempt.
“It’s good, it’s getting better,” Sestina told reporters ahead of Saturday’s matchup with Ohio State. “Day by day, working the range of motion… I try not to focus on it when I’m playing and I try not to think about it. Obviously the other day it was the first game back so I was a little shaky with it.”
Despite making his return, the 6-foot-9 senior has still been sporting a wrap on the hand/wrist but says that’s nothing to worry about.
“It’s a preventive thing, you don’t wanna fall and hurt it again,” Sestina said about wearing the wrap. “You got surgery you put a screw in there so you have to let that set for a little bit and kinda letting that sit and heal up a bit, let that scar tissue build up. Don’t want my wrist to come back too far because that’s kind of how I hurt it. So limiting that motion and still being able to move my thumb and my hand is big.”
Before his injury, Sestina had been a major piece for Kentucky early in the season. Through the first six games of the season – all in the starting lineup – the big man posted averages of 7.3 points and 7.2 rebounds in nearly 28 minutes of playing time per outing. He’s been struggling with his outside shot (just 3-13 from three on the year) but has countered that with a 64.3 shooting percentage from two-point territory.
As the Wildcats finally begin to bring the entire roster to full health, they can develop some much-needed chemistry. Sestina – being the veteran leader – is a staple in ensuring that voices are loud and spirits are high. With a tough slate of games coming up for UK, they need Sestina at 100 percent as soon as possible.
If Sestina is feeling better, then so should the Big Blue Nation.