Despite Irish success, 2012 a 'tough' season for injured CB Wood

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Despite Irish success, 2012 a 'tough' season for injured CB Wood

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Lo Wood was supposed to anchor Notre Dame's cornerbacks this season as one of the only players at his position with any semblance of experience at it. In late August, Wood tore his Achilles tendon doing nothing more than backpedaling in practice.

When the injury occurred, it wasn't an overstatement to hypothesize Notre Dame's secondary was going to be a massive weak link in 2012. KeiVarae Russell wound up holding his own opposite Bennett Jackson's solid play -- good enough, at least, for Notre Dame to reach the BCS Championship with a bunch of greenhorns at cornerback.

"Once I found out I was out for the season, I was quiet for an hour wondering, like, dang, this could be a great season," Wood said. "And it turned out to be one. It's crazy how it happened."

Crazy would've been the word used to describe someone who thought Notre Dame could go 12-0 without Wood (of course, that could've been said for someone who thought the same thing of the Irish with Wood). Watching the Irish steadily work their way to No. 1 has helped soften the blow a bit for Wood, but the redshirt junior-to-be still described the last few months as "tough."

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Having to stand on the sidelines for practice was the most difficult aspect of missing the entire season, explained Wood.

"That's the hardest part, because all you want to do is be with the team and get better at the same time," he said. "Knowing you can't better yourself while you're own brothers are getting better too, it's really hard."

Wood's been a source of knowledge for Russell, who's still new to the position despite having about five months under his belt working at it. While the two may go against each other in the coming months for a starting spot alongside Jackson, Wood said he's been impressed by Russell's fortitude going into his uncharted waters.

"He came in and stood his ground, he didn't get pushed over or anything," Wood said.

If all goes according to plan, Wood will join his teammates for workouts later in January, and he anticipates being ready for spring practice in a few months. For now, Wood's relishing his first chance to go on the road with Notre Dame all year, having spent plenty of weeks watching from his home in South Bend.

And while he's not healthy enough to play, his injury has healed to the point where he could sprint on to the field to celebrate a National Championship.

"Oh yeah," Wood smiled. "It's pretty much healthy enough to do that."

Saturday on CSN: Loyola, Illinois State host Missouri Valley opponents

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Saturday on CSN: Loyola, Illinois State host Missouri Valley opponents

CSN will have two Missouri Valley Conference games with local teams on Saturday. 

The first game tips at 3 p.m. live on CSN as Evansville heads to Loyola. The second game tips at 7 p.m. and is also live on CSN as Drake will play at Illinois State.

Loyola (13-7, 3-4) is coming off of a tough road loss in double overtime to Northern Iowa. The Ramblers have been led by senior Milton Doyle this season as the former Marshall star is one of the better guards in the Valley.

Evansville (10-10, 1-6) has dropped five straight games as they're struggling to gain any momentum in conference play. Senior guard Jaylon Brown is having an outstanding season for the Purple Aces as he's putting up 21.2 points per game.

The second matchup has Drake (6-13, 4-3) traveling to Illinois State. The Bulldogs have won three of four games and junior guard Reed Timmer is dangerous while former Saint Viator product Ore Arogundade is having a solid sophomore season. 

Illinois State (15-4, 7-0) is leading the Valley after a huge win over Wichita State as they've won eight straight games. The Redbirds are hoping to make a run to an NCAA tournament bid with another home win.

Preview: Eastern Illinois, Southern llinois in action today on CSN

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AP

Preview: Eastern Illinois, Southern llinois in action today on CSN

College basketball is back on CSN on Saturday as two local teams will be featured in live conference matchups.

In the first matchup at 11 a.m., Eastern Illinois will host Austin Peay in an Ohio Valley Conference clash on CSN+ while the second matchup has Evansville hosting Southern Illinois in a Missouri Valley Conference game at 1 p.m. on CSN.

Eastern Illinois (9-8, 1-3) is coming off of a conference loss to Murray State. Junior guard Montell Goodwin leads the charge for the Panthers as he's averaging 14.8 points per game on the season. Austin Peay (5-13, 1-3) just earned a tight win over SIU-Edwardsville to help end an 11-game losing streak. Junior Josh Robinson is having a strong season despite the losing as he's averaging 21.2 points per game for the Governors.

The second game will be on the main CSN at 1 p.m. as Southern Illinois (10-8, 3-2) tries to bounce back from a loss to Bradley. The Salukis are led by sophomore guard Armon Fletcher as the Edwardsville product leads the team at 13.7 points per game.

Evansville (10-8, 1-4) is coming off of three consecutive losses as the Purple Aces are trying to figure things out at home. Senior Jaylon Brown has been one of the Valley's premier scorers this season as he's putting up 20.9 points per contest.