ACL Well: Analyzing Six Huge Returnees From ACL Injuries

Posted by Chris Johnson on August 29th, 2012

Chris Johnson is an RTC columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn.

The fickle nature of college hoops owes itself to a number of different factors. Every year there are a handful of teams that underperform or overperform versus expectations for various reasons, from team chemistry to coaching philosophy to collective work ethic. Perhaps the most uncontrollable element of a team’s performance is injury, the sudden and often catastrophic medical ailments that – in the blink of one single cut to the hoop, defensive rotation or hard sprint down the court – dramatically alter teams’ seasons and programs’ trajectories. Last season we saw several injuries to key players, some more impactful than others, fundamentally shift the competitive balance in various leagues. For those players, the situational outlook was bleak: not playing competitively with the team you’ve spent all summer practicing with just plain stinks. But for the most part, their departures faded into the periphery as the season wore on, players began furiously rehabbing their various injuries, teams adapted and college hoops rolled along with minimal fuss.

If Mbakwe can return to form, the Gophers could be poised for an NCAA Tournament berth (Photo credit: Tom Olmscheid/AP Photo)

There was a strikingly large proportion of one particular injury last season, or at least it seemed that way for several of the sport’s most influential medical breakdowns. It’s known as the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear, and it’s one of the most common and oft-repeated of all athletic detriments. A complete recovery normally requires major surgery, between six and nine months worth of substantial rehabilitation and a cautious return to athletic activity. I’ve identified six instrumental players who experienced this very process after tearing their ACLs last season and all of them are expected to return – rehabbed and ready to go – for a redeeming 2012-13 campaign. Each player is rejoining their teams (or in some cases, new teams) under slightly different circumstances from which he left, with situational and rotational specifics dictating the terms of their returns. I’ve tried to dig into some of the circumstantial elements playing into these players’ comeback seasons and how you should expect them to fare this season. Here are the results of my research, a full-fledged breakdown of college hoops’ big-name torn ACL-returnees. Enjoy… and try your best to avoid a similar fate.

Trevor Mbakwe (sixth-year senior, Minnesota)

This isn’t unfamiliar territory for Mbakwe. Way back when he still played for Marquette – the same year (2007-08) Mario Chalmers’ legendary three-point shot KO’d a high-powered Derrick Rose-led Memphis team in the national finals – Mbakwe missed the majority of the season with a knee injury. He recovered, packed his bags and moved on to Miami Dade Community College, where he averaged a modest 16.3 PPG/13.2 RPG double-double while earning Southern Conference Player of the Year Honors. When he eventually made his way to Minnesota, after sitting out the 2009-10 season while awaiting trial for a felony assault charge, Mbakwe unleashed the ferocious rebounding and inside scoring touch he demonstrated in the JuCo ranks on Big Ten forwards. Much to the chagrin of Tubby Smith’s middling program, Mbawke had only played one full season and six full games last year before going down with an ACL tear.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Robbie Hummel: Back In Action But Not the Same Player?

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on February 1st, 2012

As North Carolina’s Dexter Strickland held onto his foot in extreme pain two weeks ago against Virginia Tech, every Tar Heel fan knew that their chances to get to the Final Four decreased immediately.  Purdue fans can relate to that feeling.  They experienced the same drop in their heart rate on February 24, 2010, when star forward Robbie Hummel tore his ACL in Minneapolis.  To make matters worse, the Basketball Gods were really upset with West Lafayette because Hummel injured his knee again just before the 2010-11 season.

Robbie Hummel's Resurgence Is Worth Rooting For

The Baby BoilersE’Twaun Moore, JaJuan Johnson and Hummel couldn’t finish what they had started out to do as freshmen in 2008 – to play during the last weekend of the college hoops season.  It couldn’t happen due to Hummel’s injuries. Hummel returned to the court after an 18-month strenuous rehabilitation process.  His buddies are gone but he remains one of the top scorers in the conference – averaging 15.2 points per game.  His offensive production hasn’t changed much from the 2010 season (15.4 PPG) but there is just something different about him on the court. He looks the same and he generates enough offense but his arsenal of moves has been affected by the injuries.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story