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Still no timetable for Butler guard Rotnei Clarke’s return

Jan 13, 2013, 5:45 PM EST

Will Sheehey, Rotnei Clarke AP

When Butler senior guard Rotnei Clarke fell into the basket stanchion in the first half of the Bulldogs’ 79-73 win at Dayton on Saturday afternoon the worst was feared for the sharpshooter.

With the team unable to give a concrete timetable in regards to when Clarke would be able to return to the floor the thought was that he could be out for much of the month of January, with head coach Brad Stevens simply offering up that the injury “is not season-ending by any means.”

Clarke is sore due to the neck sprain he was able to return to Indianapolis with the team last night, and the question of when he’ll be able to make his return remains.

Butler released the following statement on Clarke’s status on Sunday afternoon:

The Butler scoring leader underwent an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) in Indianapolis on Saturday evening after returning from Dayton.  He received treatment and did a light workout on Sunday.  No time table has been set for his return.

“The MRI confirmed the presence of a significant neck sprain. His spinal cord and cervical discs were viewed  normal,” said Butler trainer Ryan Galloy.  “Right now, he’s sore and stiff, but he’s out of the collar.  The next question is when he can resume contact.”

The Bulldogs have two home games this week, with Richmond visiting on Wednesday night and No. 9 Gonzaga on Saturday, and it remains to be seen if Clarke is able to go through a full contact practice. Based on Galloy’s quote it’s pretty clear that Clarke would need to do so in order to entertain any thoughts of returning to the lineup.

Against Dayton the Bulldogs shot 58.1% from the field and assisted on 19 of their 25 made field goals with Roosevelt Jones (16 points), Andrew Smith (13) and Khyle Marshall (12) leading the way offensively.

But just as big in the win was the production of the Butler bench. The Bulldog reserves, led by Kellen Dunham (eight points) and Erik Fromm (seven), outscored Dayton’s reserves 27-19.

With Clarke out of the lineup for the foreseeable future Stevens will need his non-starters to contribute even more offensively, especially when Gonzaga visits on Saturday night.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.