IOWA CITY — Iowa coach Fran McCaffery has been debating whether or not to use junior Nicholas Baer in his starting lineup.
Now the decision has been made for him.
Baer broke a bone in the pinkie finger on his left hand over the weekend and will be sidelined for three to four weeks. The injury, which occurred in practice, will not require surgery.
“Nicholas has played great in preseason practices and this is an unfortunate setback,” McCaffery said in a statement issued by the university. “We expect Nicholas to make a full recovery and look forward to him rejoining his teammates on the court soon.”
The 6-foot-7 Baer, one of the team’s co-captains along with senior Dom Uhl, was the Big Ten’s Sixth Man of the Year last season after leading the team in rebounding (5.8), steals (1.4) and blocked shots (1.3).
The former Bettendorf High School star also averaged 7.5 points per game and was one of only four players in Iowa history to lead the team in both blocks and steals in the same season.
The Hawkeyes open the regular season Friday night against Chicago State. Baer will miss at least six games with his earliest possible return being a game against Virginia Tech in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Nov. 28. The Hawkeyes open Big Ten play against Penn State a few days later, on Dec. 2.
Baer started for the Hawkeyes in their first exhibition game, a 105-81 victory over William Jewell on Oct 27, but failed to score in only nine minutes of action. He went back to his more familiar role of coming off the bench in the second exhibition last week and scored nine points, making three of four 3-point field goal attempts in a 96-64 win over Belmont Abbey.
“I think I felt a little bit better today coming off the bench,’’ Baer said following that game. “I obviously have had success in that role so we’ll see if I stay there. Either way, as a team I think we played a lot better today, especially in the second half. I think we just need to continue to build off that.’’