Help is not on the way. Not this season, at least.
Indiana coach Archie Miller said Tuesday that forward Joey Brunk and recently-added guard Parker Stewart will not see the floor for IU over the final weeks of the season, pointing to all the time they’ve missed over the first three-plus months of the season. Brunk is recovering from a back injury that has sidelined him since the preseason, while Stewart continues to adjust to his new surroundings after transferring from UT Martin in January.
“Neither guy is available,” Miller said. “I mean, we’re down to 10 days left in the regular season.”
Though he’s not a game-changer, Brunk’s physical, big-bodied presence would have helped in spurts off the bench this season. As recently as last month, Miller wasn’t ruling out a return for the fifth-year senior, who averaged 6.8 points and 6.2 rebounds in his first year with IU last season. It’s clear now, however, that there’s not enough runaway left in the schedule to get the former Butler transfer back on the floor.
Brunk underwent successful back surgery in December.
“Joey is just now starting to get a little bit more active,” Miller said. “He’s yet to do anything with a basketball. Joey is pretty much done for the season. The big thing for him is going to be to continue to do his recovery. He’s doing really well and we’re pleased with where he’s at. He’s just got to take some time to continue to rehabilitate the back and the muscles and things like that.”
Stewart, a 36% career 3-point shooter, decided to transfer after his father, Anthony, the former UT Martin coach, died unexpectedly in November. He’s been with IU since the start of the spring semester, but Miller says the program is in no rush to push him onto the court.
The 6-foot-5 guard hasn’t appeared in a game since Feb. 27, 2020.
“Parker has yet to be fully engaged in practice,” Miller said. “He’s still dealing with a lot of different stuff, just in terms of getting acclimated here, getting in the groove of things. He does participate in a good portion of practice, now more so than he did two, three weeks ago. I think the big thing for him is to continue to get acclimated. But neither guy will be available.”