Rick Majerus Takes A Leave Of Absence From Saint Louis

Posted by nvr1983 on August 24th, 2012

With a potential top 25 team next season thing were looking bright at Saint Louis, but those aspirations took a hit today when the school announced that head coach Rick Majerus would miss the upcoming season while dealing with health-related issues. Majerus, who has a 517-215 record, is probably best known for his time at Utah where he led the Utes to Elite Eight and National Championship Game in consecutive seasons. He has also battled health issues for years with the most notable and public events being related to his heart dating back to a coronary artery bypass graft (open-heart surgery) in 1989 and most recently missing some time early last season after undergoing another cardiac procedure. At the present time, Majerus is “in a California hospital undergoing evaluation and treatment for an ongoing heart condition” according to Director of Athletics Chris May.

We Hope This Is Not The Last Time We See Majerus On A Sideline

For the time being this leave of absence is being listed as temporary by the school with Jim Crews acting as the interim head coach for the 2012-13 season. Crews has compiled a 354-348 record as a head coach at Evansville and Army before joining the Billikens’ staff prior to the start of last season. We hope that this is not the last that we have seen of Majerus on the sideline, but given his mounting health concerns it is a very real possibility that we may not see one of the most iconic coaches in college basketball on a sideline again.

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Two of Nation’s Top Point Guards Facing Potentially Serious Injuries

Posted by EJacoby on June 25th, 2012

It’s been well documented that the point guard position was not a strong suit of Division I basketball last year, and the same applies for the incoming class of freshmen players. The last thing we need is for some of the country’s elite lead guards to suffer setbacks this offseason heading into 2012-13, but it appears that’s exactly what has happened over the past week. NC State’s rising junior Lorenzo Brown is set to undergo knee surgery this week, and incoming Providence stud Kris Dunn suffered a recent shoulder injury that could require surgery as well. Brown’s procedure is notable as only ‘exploratory’ and should not leave him sidelined for more than several weeks, but knee surgeries are never good news for quick guards. It often takes far longer than the required rehab time before a player returns to 100% health and regains the trust to rely on his knee for all the cuts required during games. Dunn’s status, meanwhile, remains unknown but could become a far more serious issue that requires several months of rehabilitation. Both players could also end up fine for the upcoming season — still over four months away — but their teams could also become affected during parts or all of the year.

Lorenzo Brown is a versatile guard for NC State and hopes to avoid a serious knee injury after exploratory surgery this week (AP Photo/C. Burton)

Brown averaged 12.7 points, 6.3 assists, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.8 steals per game as a sophomore last season for a late-surging Wolfpack team that made a strong run to the Sweet Sixteen. The heady guard has terrific size at 6’5″ that enables him to see the floor well and defend at a high level; he even averaged half a block per game last year. He’s the leader of a preseason top 15 team who led the squad in minutes played last season. Luckily, Mark Gottfried’s team also has incoming McDonald’s All-American freshman Tyler Lewis as its backup point guard, but he is not ready or able to handle all the responsibilities that Brown does — Lewis would fit much better as a rotating reserve to start his career. Hopefully, Brown’s surgery doesn’t reveal anything particularly damaging and the veteran can re-join the team long before the season starts, but having a procedure to “discover the source of pain” leaves reason for temporary concern.

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Is This The End For Jim Calhoun?

Posted by nvr1983 on February 15th, 2012

Since last season’s national championship game speculation about the upcoming retirement of Jim Calhoun (and we all know it is coming sooner rather than later) has been running rampant. Calhoun decided to come back to coach what looked like a loaded defending champion, despite having to sit out the first three games of Big East play due to a suspension and the looming possibility that the 2013 Connecticut team would be unable to play in the NCAA Tournament because of the low APR scores of their predecessors. When the Huskies got off to a slower than expected start many chalked it up to a young but talented team figuring out how to play without Walker dominating the ball. As the team’s mediocre play continued, it was assumed that while this UConn team would not be a dominant one like Calhoun’s first two championship teams it still had the talent and most importantly Calhoun to make a run in March. Now it looks like the latter may not be the case.

Will Calhoun Walk Away?

When Calhoun announced earlier this month that he is dealing with spinal stenosis, which had been diagnosed this past summer, and that he would take an indefinite medical leave of absence to deal with worsening symptoms and to figure out if he would undergo surgery or proceed with conservative management, most media members assumed that Calhoun, one of the tougher individuals you will ever meet, would put off the surgery to have one last run in the NCAA Tournament. If Calhoun opts for conservative treatment, the symptoms of spinal stenosis are classically improved by sitting (something that can be hard to do if you watch this UConn team play), so it would not seem like he would be putting himself any significant risk by returning to sidelines if he can try to be a little less animated than usual. However, it has been almost two weeks since Calhoun announced that he was taking a medical leave of absence and the news out of Storrs keeps getting worse as the most recent information is that Calhoun will be out at least the next three games, which means that he would not return to coach a game until February 25 at the earliest.

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Indiana’s Maurice Creek Out Indefinitely

Posted by jstevrtc on October 10th, 2011

Robbie Hummel has been the title-holder of Unluckiest College Basketball Player in Indiana since October 16th, 2010, when he tore his right ACL for the second time. Unfortunately, it looks like Hummel has some serious competition for that lamentable honor.

There Is No Timetable for Creek's Return From His Third Injury Inside of Two Years

Indiana guard Maurice Creek had surgery earlier today to repair a torn left Achilles’ tendon. This makes his third lower-extremity injury within 22 months. On December 28, 2009, just 12 games into his first season at IU, Creek went up for a layup against Bryant University and broke his left kneecap, costing him the rest of his freshman year, one in which he was shooting 52.7% from the field while leading Indiana in scoring (16.4 PPG) and efficiency rating (15.6). Five games into the Hoosiers’ Big Ten schedule the following season, Creek was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his other kneecap, obliterating his sophomore year.

It hasn’t been revealed how much time Creek will miss as a result of this latest setback. If Creek completely tore (that is, ruptured) the tendon, it could take him as long as a year to fully recover.

The most famous Achilles’ tendon injury of recent vintage was Kalin Lucas’ misstep in the Spartans’ second round 2010 NCAA Tournament game against Maryland. Though there was an obvious deficit compared to his previous level of first-step and lateral quickness in the first several games, Lucas eventually found his form and ended up leading MSU in scoring (17.0 PPG) and minutes played (33.4 MPG) last year. If we had just had a surgery like Creek’s, Lucas is the first person we’d call.

On two previously fractured kneecaps, though, Creek’s road to complete recovery is substantially more difficult. We certainly hope he makes it all the way back.

 

 

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Austin Hatch Out of the Hospital and Back Home

Posted by nvr1983 on October 10th, 2011

When Austin Hatch was involved in a plane crash on June 24 that killed his father and stepmother just a little over a week after he had committed to play for Michigan it was a tragedy that made headlines beyond your typical incident involving an injured high school athlete as it was the second plane crash (both piloted by his father Stephen, an anesthesiologist) that Hatch had survived and the second that had taken a family member (the first killed his mother). After a challenging hospital course spent recovering from a serious head injury, punctured lung, and various fractures as well as some time at a rehabilitation center, Hatch returned home over the weekend. As expected, the family is releasing very few details about Hatch including his condition and even where he is staying since he had been living with his now deceased parents. In a released statement, the family said, “While Austin has made great improvements, he still has obstacles to overcome as he continues to heal, grieve and acclimate to life after tragedy.”

Austin Is Recovering At Home

At this time, the family has asked the media to respect their privacy and that Austin would not be made available for interviews for the time being although they are maintaining his CaringBridge site that may be updated at some point. Like others in the college basketball community we wish Austin the best in his recovery as he tries to rehab and cope with the loss of his parents.

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Steve Lavin To Undergo Prostate Surgery

Posted by jstevrtc on October 5th, 2011

St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin will have prostate surgery in New York City on Thursday as part of what will hopefully be the beginning of the endgame of the treatment course for his diagnosis of prostate cancer.

Go Get 'Em, Coach, And Feel Better Soon

Back in April, Lavin went public with that diagnosis, noting that his physicians had recommended a trial of watchful waiting that had started about six months prior. Taking a “wait and see” approach is a common course of action in the treatment of the disease, especially when it’s caught early. Obviously we have no specific information as far as the communications between Lavin and his doctors, but given his age — the average age of patients newly diagnosed with prostate cancer is 70, and Lavin is 47 — he should tolerate the procedure well, and it can be safely assumed that he and his physicians have examined all the data available and decided that this offers him the best chance for a totally cancer-free life. Surgery is frequently curative for the disease.

Of course, we can describe the surgery as a “common” course of action and make this all sound as routine as anything, but when you’re the one in the open-back gown being wheeled back to the operating room, there’s not a single thing that feels common or routine about it. That in mind, everyone at RTC really hopes this goes as smoothly as it can for Coach Lavin, and we’re hoping and praying for the best for him.

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Kevin Parrom In Stable Condition After Being Shot On Saturday Morning

Posted by nvr1983 on September 25th, 2011

According to various reports, Arizona junior Kevin Parrom was shot in the right leg early on Saturday morning during a trip home to New York City. Parrom was reportedly going home to spend time with his mother to support her for an undisclosed medical condition. While Parrom has not issued a statement yet, sources are reporting that the shooting was related to an argument over a woman who was visiting Parrom. In addition, Parrom’s AAU coach has reported that Parrom is doing well and is already walking. Arizona coach Sean Miller issued the following statement: “I have been in contact with Kevin and his family throughout the weekend and look forward to his return to Tucson and being back in class this week. Our focus is on Kevin’s health right now. Once we have more information, we’ll be able to address his potential return to team activities.”

Parrom Appears To Be Doing Well After The Shooting (Credit: Pat Shannahan/The Arizona Republic)

Even with a loaded incoming freshman class Parrom should have an opportunity to build on a solid sophomore season where he averaged 7.6 PPG and 3.4 RPG as he will get more time with the ball in his hands with the departure of Derrick Williams to the NBA basketball limbo. Like Miller, we wish Parrom the best of luck in his recovery and hope to see big things from him once he recovers.

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Taylor Brown Cleared, Will Be Back For Bradley

Posted by jstevrtc on September 21st, 2011

Bradley forward Taylor Brown is back playing basketball. After sitting out all of last season while doctors investigated an issue with his heart, Brown has been cleared to play his senior season.

Brown Had To Willingly Decondition His Body and Heart For His Cardiac Workup

Here’s what’s particularly compelling about Brown’s case: as part of his doctors’ investigation over the last year or so, Brown was told to actually de-condition his heart. Obviously, that doesn’t mean he was told by his docs to start smoking and to commence with an all-lard diet, but it does mean that he was told not only to refrain from playing basketball, but also not to do anything active. In short, he was told by his doctors, quite frankly, to do nothing, to allow himself to get into worse shape, because it would help his physicians reach a diagnosis. That might be fantastic medical advice for certain basketball blog writers — such a directive from one of our doctors would be met with a hearty “Can do!” and an immediate trip to the store for more Doritos — but it’s not the easiest thing for someone in their early 20s to hear, and certainly not for an athlete with a future that was getting brighter with every game he played.

After transferring from junior college in 2008, Brown averaged 3.4 PPG and 3.0 RPG in an average 11.5 MPG for Bradley in 2008-09. That ballooned to 13.5 PPG and 6.8 RPG during his sophomore year, and his 12.9 efficiency rating was the best on his team for 2009-10. After sitting out his junior year for the cardiac workup, he’s had to work hard to re-condition himself after the long period of prescribed de-conditioning, and he’ll be back to help the Braves rebound from a 12-20 (4-14 MVC) mark last year.

Patients are told by their doctors to rest or restrict themselves from certain activities, depending on the malady from which they’re suffering, or because it will aid in the workup of a suspected disorder. But there are incredibly few conditions that would require your physician to say, “We actually need your heart to be in a little worse shape than it is now so we can check into this. That’d help us out a lot. Then we’re going to put you through a bunch of heart tests.” Because the working and final diagnoses of Brown’s case have never been released during this process, we won’t disrespect him here by saying what we think it is, but the fact that he’s been cleared to play is even better news than it seems on the surface. We’re just glad he’s OK and we’re looking forward to him playing hoops this season — but probably not nearly as much as he is.

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Did You Really Expect Pat Summitt To Go Quietly?

Posted by jstevrtc on August 24th, 2011

We don’t often wander into the territory of women’s college basketball. In the past, it’s taken some landmark occurrence — say, a coach reaching one of those round-number milestone games, or some ridiculous play, or an awesome fight may have gotten a mention in the Morning 5. This isn’t really because of any animosity or lack of respect toward the women’s game. It’s simply not what we cover. You could say the same thing for the men’s game in Division II or III. It’s not what our editors and correspondents all have in common. Only the most extremely newsworthy circumstances would result in a mention around here.

Unfortunately, something extremely newsworthy happened yesterday.

Summitt's Greatest Coaching Lesson Is Yet To Come

By now, you’ve heard the news that Tennessee coaching legend Pat Summitt has been diagnosed with a disease called early-onset dementia of the Alzheimer’s type. There’s a good chance you’ve read at least one or two of the glowing articles about Summitt, all unquestionably well-founded in their praise and their rememberances of her career. Other than to mention that surreal number of career wins and preposterous-looking record — that’d be 1,071-199 and counting (on which more in a moment), an 84.3% win rate — we will not cover that well-documented ground here. We’re not going to use this woman being diagnosed with a cruel disease as a reason to start talking about women’s college basketball or what she’s meant to that game like we’ve been secretly following it all along as some sort of afterthought. We all know she’s a legend, a title she’s earned regardless of her gender or that of the athletes she coaches. Everyone’s aware of how she belongs in the discussion, if not carved into the theoretical rock, of possible candidates for a basketball coaches’ Mount Rushmore, if one were ever to be constructed. She needs our approval about as much as she needs a flat tire or an IRS audit.

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Allan Chaney Denied Medical Clearance By Virginia Tech

Posted by nvr1983 on August 10th, 2011

Virginia Tech announced today that it was denying transfer Allan Chaney medical clearance due to ongoing medical issues related to his diagnosis of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart) in April 2010. Chaney, who was a 4-star recruit coming out of high school in Connecticut, appeared in 23 games as a freshman at Florida where he averaged 3 points and 2.1 rebounds per game in limited action as he played just 9.8 minutes per game in a season that was marred by injuries and a season-ending suspension, which eventually led to his decision to leave Gainesville. After sitting out the 2009-10 season as a transfer at Virginia Tech expectations were high for Chaney as Hokie fans expected him to help Malcolm Delaney and Jeff Allen get the team back to the NCAA Tournament after a prolonged absence. However, that all changed when Chaney collapsed during an April 2010 workout, which at the time was thought to be due to dehydration, and was later diagnosed as myocarditis.

Complications from myocarditis kept Chaney from wearing a Hokie jersey

While Chaney recovered from the viral myocarditis the resulting scarring around his heart, which reduced his exercise capacity, was concerning enough for team physicians that he was forced to sit out the 2010-11 season and underwent an undisclosed cardiac procedure in May at the University of Pennsylvania. Still, many Hokie fans expected (or hoped) that Chaney would be available to return for the 2011-12 season. In the end, it appears that Chaney was not able to regain enough functional capacity (or there was enough concern for a potentially fatal arrhythmia) for the team doctors to clear him to play “due to persistent complications from myocarditis”. In a statement, coach Seth Greenberg said, “Allan Chaney has been through a great deal in the last year and a half. Everyone involved in our basketball program feels for him. Unfortunately, this rare condition will prevent him from continuing his career here at Virginia Tech. We will do everything in our power to assist Allan as he goes through his next procedure and support him in every way possible.”

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We’re With You, Austin Hatch

Posted by jstevrtc on June 27th, 2011

At some point today, in the attempt to bring him out of a medically-induced coma, doctors will reduce the sedating medicine that they’ve been giving Austin Hatch since Friday. Hatch, a rising junior at Fort Wayne, Indiana’s Canterbury High, committed a couple of weeks ago to play basketball for Michigan starting in the fall of 2013. He suffered a punctured lung, swelling and bruising of his brain, and fractures in his skull, ribs, and collar bone when the single-engine plane piloted by his father went down on Friday near Charlevoix, Michigan. Hatch’s father and stepmother were killed in the crash. Hatch has been kept in the coma by his physicians at a hospital in Traverse City, Michigan since the incident.

Medically induced comas are (unfortunately) frequently used by doctors for several reasons, but the overall philosophy is that the coma gives critically ill patients time to rest and regain strength, and gain full benefit from the care given by the physicians and nurses. When the caretakers think a critical patient is ready, they reduce or remove the medicine that’s keeping the patient asleep, and then see how they do as they wake up. Obviously we don’t know the specifics of Hatch’s case, but depending on the medicine used for sedation, it doesn’t take long to figure out how a patient in this situation is going to do; we’re talking a few minutes up to a few hours. Even so, because of the understandable measure of caution that comes with reporting news of this nature, we wouldn’t expect an update of Hatch’s condition to be made public until the next day at the earliest. As soon as we see reliable accounts become available, we’ll have something up here or we’ll put something out over Twitter.

It hardly seems believable, but if Hatch does well off of sedation, there is another matter: remember, this is his second plane crash. He lost his mother and two siblings in a crash in 2003. Friday’s crash cost him his father and his stepmother. He doesn’t know it yet. Not only does he have to fight for his life today, but if he succeeds, he’ll have to be told about what happened to the rest of his family. It’s unspeakable.

Austin, we’re all praying things work out for you today, and that you’ll find at least some comfort in all the teammates, coaches, classmates and friends who have traveled to the hospital to be with you as you recover. The entirety of the college basketball world is behind you.

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Study: D1 Men’s Basketball Players At Highest Risk For Sudden Cardiac Death

Posted by jstevrtc on April 29th, 2011

A study published earlier this month in the American Heart Association journal Circulation has found that Division I men’s basketball players are at the highest risk among all college athletes for sudden cardiac death (SCD). According to the authors of the study, there is one incident of SCD for every 3,124 men’s college basketball players in Division I per year. This is an alarming number for many reasons, especially when compared to the incidence of SCD among ALL college athletes that was measured at a much less frequent 1 in 43,770 athletes in a given year.

Herb Pope's Sudden Cardiac Arrest Did Not Become a Sudden Cardiac Death Because an AED Was Nearby

If you’re like us, you saw that 1 in 3,124 SCD rate for D-I men’s basketball players and immediately remembered that there are over 4,000 guys playing D-I college hoops each season. That would imply that there are between 1-2 players dying from this each year, or between 10-20 over the last ten years. At first blush, that may seem like an impossibly high rate — how many D-I players over the last ten years can you name who died because their hearts stopped? — but the researchers note in the article that during the five year study period (January 2004 through December 2008), nine players suffered SCD. Their math is unfortunately backed up by what really happened.

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