PDA

View Full Version : John Blanchette on the Zags "Latest Soap Opera" - Austin Daye & more



ZagNative
07-16-2008, 06:26 AM
A bit of perspective from John Blanchette (http://www.spokesmanreview.com/tools/story_pf.asp?ID=253014) this morning (just had to bold some of the gems for emphasis):

Consider Zags' latest soap opera a Daye of Our Lives

John Blanchette
The Spokesman-Review
July 16, 2008

You're all familiar with the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

Right. Sounds like the law firm that handled your buddy's divorce.

Anyway, the Gonzaga basketball community has found a shortcut. They've narrowed it down to two stages.

Cataclysm, then Catechism.

Violent upheaval, tragedy, panic, Armageddon – followed by a refresher in any worth there is to be found in faith and prayer.

Which brings us to Austin Daye and his right knee.

The Zags' budding star forward will go under the knife shortly, providing that in the wake of such news all the operating rooms aren't already booked with fans checking in for surgery of their own. You know, the basic stuff – gastrointestinal, open heart, frontal lobe.

Mere minutes ago, they had their heroes passing Go and bound for the Final Four – again – by drawing the Best-Team-Ever-On-Paper card off the Community Chest pile. Then comes word that the tumble Daye took back at the Lebron James Skills Academy in Ohio last week was just as ugly as originally feared and not the pulled hamstring close shave that was subsequently diagnosed.

Now the mood is more like something out of "The Day After Tomorrow," although there is a pocket of fierce resistance that still expects the Zags to run the table – and would even if the starting five had to play in an iron lung.

Then there was coach Mark Few's philosophical approach.

"Unfortunately," he was quoted as saying, "injuries are part of the game."

Well, if they weren't, the Bulldogs have certainly done their part to ingrain them.

Just an unofficial tally, but the 2009 season will make four out of the last five that the Bulldogs have started without the services of some primary cast member. There is, in fact, a history of significant games lost to injury that stretches back to 2000 – and in its own way makes Gonzaga's string of West Coast Conference titles and NCAA tournament appearances all the more remarkable.

A year ago, it was two starters – Josh Heytvelt and Steven Gray – missing the first 10 games. In 2006, Erroll Knight was out the first eight games and Heytvelt – after not getting clearance to play until Game 3 – broke his leg two nights later and sat until mid-February. The season before, Knight again missed a stretch to start the season, and Nathan Doudney – after starting the first four – blew a knee in Game 7 and was finished.

What else? The stress fracture that sidelined Ronny Turiaf until he was cleared to play the 2004 opener. The broken hand that cost Tony Skinner five weeks of his senior year. The balky knee that didn't allow Blake Stepp to practice in 2002. Dan Dickau's broken finger that would have kept the Zags out of the NCAAs in 2001 had they not won the WCC tournament.

Every team has injuries. Not every team is cursed.

This isn't a solicitation for pity. What the Zags have done each and every time is pull together, optimize the not inconsiderable talents of the players they still have and maybe even hang fire a bit until they're whole.

But this one is tricky.

Daye may only have a year of college basketball behind him, but he was surely going to be the focal point of Gonzaga's attack in 2009 – the return of point guard Jeremy Pargo notwithstanding. That was seen in all the plays the staff was running for Daye in big games late last year, and statistically, too. Extrapolated to 40 minutes per game, no Zag was as productive – 22.7 points, 10.1 rebounds – as the Gumbyish 6-foot-10 forward. He's also the best shot blocker.

Couple his absence – for a full season or not – with the uncertainty surrounding Heytvelt, who once again had off-season surgery to repair a stress fracture in his right foot and has not made it through a single Gonzaga season without issues. Heytvelt is still in an extended rehabilitation.

And even if he's hale, the Zags remain thin up front – a big body in sophomore Robert Sacre, little-used spot players Will Foster and Ira Brown, and a slender recruit in freshman Andy Poling. It is likely, of course, that senior Micah Downs will be asked again to play more minutes at the "4" position, as he did in 2007 during Heytvelt's late-season suspension. The wispy Downs was a bit of a revelation in that role, but in this case he'll be asked to do it against the murderers' row schedule of November and December – to say nothing of against a WCC lineup that returns eight of 10 all-conference players and for the first time has not one but two teams capable of taking the Bulldogs down, and hungry enough to do just that.

Even before Daye went down, however, Few had concerns up front.

"There's a level of toughness that needs to improve in our guys," he said. "We lost our two toughest guys (David Pendergraft and Abdullahi Kuso), especially in defense and rebounding. Those are the areas where those two thrived and it's a hard commodity to replace."Like most of John's writing, it's hard to leave out a single sentence, but I did drop the last paragraph of his blog so you'd feel compelled to follow the link (http://www.spokesmanreview.com/tools/story_pf.asp?ID=253014) and give him a hit on the Spokesman's website.

P.S. Mods - feel free to move this to the other tread if you wish. Just seemed like at 87 posts, it was getting a bit long in the tooth, and JB is always noteworthy on his own.

ZagNative
07-16-2008, 06:52 AM
And some interesting takes on Austin's injury from around the net:

From Stadium Way (http://stadiumway.wordpress.com/2008/07/15/your-2008-2009-cougar-basketball-schedule/), a Cougar fan blog:
Gonzaga - After Austin Daye’s ACL injury at the LeBron camp, this game suddenly looks a lot more competitive on paper. The Zags are looking to avoid a third straight loss to the Cougars. Five years ago that statement would sound completely ridiculous. :(

From The Boneyard (http://mbd.scout.com/mb.aspx?s=342&f=2871&t=2682512), UConn's Scout MBB, one poster says "He has a partially torn ACL. Will he be healthy in time for the season? I think UConn will handle Gonzaga without Daye who is a very talented big man." Another replies, "I think we can win either way, but Daye or not, they are a tough out especially on the road. Rarely are they 'handled'. I feel sorry for the kid but they still have a good team to put on the court, and they are well coached. Still a great game and test for us."

And from my favorite non-Zag MBB, MemphisTigers.Org (http://ncaabbs.com/showthread.php?tid=305650):

Tough break for a good kid.
I like that kid. I watched some of their games on ESPN/ESPN2 during the season, and he was a freshman who didn't get a lot of hype, but had a good season I thought (except of course, when he went up against the Tigers)
I hope its not too severe. That kid has a bright future
Of course now if we beat gonzaga this year, the critics will preface it with the fact that austin daye was injured.
Good guy. Hope it is not too bad of an injury
The zags should be loaded this year since they only lose Kuso and Pendergraft. Losing Daye would be a serious blow but he may be back by the time we play them. ACL recovery times aren't what they were just a few years ago.
When do you play them? Brandon Rush came back last year in around 6-6.5 months(mid November). 6-6.5 months from now puts Daye's return @ late Jan. early feb. Then it took Rush another couple months to get back to the player he was. Takes around 18 months to fully re-gain that athleticism back. Also it also depends on how hard the player works to get back. Daye will probably truly ready come March, which I'm sure the Zags don't mind, but playing w/out him for so long then putting him in could throw a monkey wrench into things.

Radbooks
07-16-2008, 08:33 AM
I thought I'd post this here instead of that other really long thread. This is from Andy Katz's blog this morning:


• Gonzaga coach Mark Few said Wednesday morning that he expects Austin Daye to have surgery for his partially torn ACL in his right knee soon. But Few is not sure where the surgery will occur. The surgery could be done in Daye's hometown of Los Angeles, with a specialist in the New York area or in Spokane. The Daye family will determine the site. But the Zags are cautious about being too optimistic about Daye's return to the court. Kansas guard Brandon Rush made a remarkable recovery from a torn ACL suffered in May. He was back and playing on Nov. 15. The extra month certainly helped Rush in his return. The Zags don't anticipate Daye returning for the fall semester. The more realistic approach is Daye returning for the WCC season in January.

ZagNative
07-16-2008, 10:19 AM
More, this time from the Orange County Register (http://www.ocregister.com/articles/daye-player-year-2094993-season-conference) (bolding added for emphasis):

Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Former Warrior basketball star Austin Daye suffers injury
BY BRENT SHAVER
Staff Writer

Former Woodbridge High standout basketball player Austin Daye was back in Southern California this week, but surely not for the reason he wanted.

Daye, who was one of the top freshman players in the nation last year at Gonzaga University, was injured July 8 at the LeBron James Skills Academy in Akron, Ohio, according to reports.

At first he was thought to have injured a tendon in the hamstring of his right leg.

Instead, the Spokesman-Review of Spokane reported that an MRI has shown the 6-foot-10 sophomore has a partially torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.

And Daye was expected to undergo surgery this week.

Woodbridge Coach John Halagan said Tuesday night he talked to his former player a few days ago and said Daye was headed to see Dr. Steve Lombardo, who has been the Lakers team physician since 1974.

"He will be in great hands of course," Halagan said. "Austin was a little down about (the injury), but he told me that it would be alright.

"It is a setback, but knowing Austin it is something he will come back from. He will work at a fever pitch to get back and be an even better player."

Last year, in his freshman season, Daye averaged 10.5 points and 4.7 rebounds. Daye was honorable mention All-West Coast Conference and was selected to the conference's all-freshmen team.

He is thought to be a possible player of the year candidate in the conference this season. And NBAdraft.net has projected Daye as the No. 9 pick in the 2009 Draft.

"I saw where he was projected by some people at like No. 20 in this year's draft," Halagan said. "It has been great watching him grow at Gonzaga. Any time you see a former player at the next level is special.

"Austin has come back and visited (at Woodbridge) and I know he loves Gonzaga. He is doing well in school and likes the system he is in up there. It is a great fit for him. He's made great strides.

"Hopefully this (injury) will be a short term thing and he will be back for this season."Read a little bit more in the story here (http://www.ocregister.com/articles/daye-player-year-2094993-season-conference)and give the OCR a hit on their website.

Das Zagger
07-16-2008, 03:35 PM
Dudes, I said it before and I will say it again, I think everyone is overreacting a bit to this injury.

If it turns out to be really bad (ie. he missed 3+ months) I will eat my words...as long as you can provide me some A-1.

MississppiZag
07-16-2008, 03:57 PM
I hope you are right. Why do you think only 3 months?

Nevtelen
07-16-2008, 04:50 PM
Dudes, I said it before and I will say it again, I think everyone is overreacting a bit to this injury.

If it turns out to be really bad (ie. he missed 3+ months) I will eat my words...as long as you can provide me some A-1.

I would bet you anything you want that he's out more than 3 months. No matter how bad or not bad the injury, an ACL tear is an ACL tear.

Das Zagger
07-16-2008, 07:47 PM
No matter how bad or not bad the injury, an ACL tear is an ACL tear.

No, no its not. ACL tears, like rainbows, come in a wide variety of degrees (or colors). If we are talking a tiny tear with a couple of sutures then I think AD doesn't miss a game. I am actually somewhat surprised that they are going ahead with surgery if it's such a small tear.

First real deal game isn't until late November, I think AD will be fine by then.

MDABE80
07-16-2008, 07:53 PM
Send Das a bowlful of words. It's a bit more complicated that what we've learned thus far. I like John's columns but this one sorta left me flat. Maybe we just know too much on this board. Angelo, BZ and CDC keep us all up to speed on most things. I just didn't see anything real new in this article. Fancy, cute words..... maybe that's the point.....just entertainment.

ZagNative
07-16-2008, 07:54 PM
Das Zag ... And the reason you should have any credibility on this matter is .... Dude?

Abe, I found John's reminder that we've survived adversity before and likely will again a helpful dose of perspective for me. John is a great writer and this column was no exception.

zagco
07-16-2008, 08:10 PM
We do need to get tougher and less fragile. We need to get some Steve Puidokas types.

Nevtelen
07-16-2008, 08:25 PM
No, no its not. ACL tears, like rainbows, come in a wide variety of degrees (or colors). If we are talking a tiny tear with a couple of sutures then I think AD doesn't miss a game. I am actually somewhat surprised that they are going ahead with surgery if it's such a small tear.

First real deal game isn't until late November, I think AD will be fine by then.

It's not that I know a ton about ACL tears, but after everything I've read from the medical professionals (and soon to be medical professionals) and people who have been through ACL injuries on this board and all that I've heard elsewhere, I have not once seen even the possibility remotely raised that Daye won't miss even 1 game. Most are saying possibly Jan or March or the whole season. If he's superman and things are perfect, maybe December. You'll excuse me if I don't discount all that in light of your opinion.

MDABE80
07-16-2008, 08:40 PM
Beauty's in the eye of the beholder ZN. Maybe we're spoiled by the excellent flow of information.....I like information......the new stuff. John's an award winning writer. I know. No need to defend him. Love the guy's work.

Austin needs scoped to determine the extent of the problem.....and then what needs to be done about it. Scoping is coming up. Images by MRI.....depend on the quality of the images give a decent snapshot of something at the exact time. This can be a dynamic situation though. Austin 's been referred for revaluation.

Look for the coaches/family to give further information. More news when they want it known. Medical privacy is a bigger deal than it used to be. In the meantime, we'll just have to hunker down, say a few prayers and know that our boy's in exceptionally capable hands.

ZaggyStardust
07-16-2008, 09:10 PM
I heard on one news broadcast (I think it was Q6) that he had a second and third opinion today in CA - for what it's worth!

Keeping you in my prayers, Austin!

Das Zagger
07-16-2008, 09:52 PM
Das Zag ... And the reason you should have any credibility on this matter is .... Dude?

I can speak from experience, I would think that brings some cred to me.

I did a partial tear in HS, no surgery though. I did it on a Friday, cleared by the PT, and practiced, that following Wednesday.

ps. I would have quoted Hova here but "passin the bar" doesn't hold the same footing, now does it?

ZagNut08
07-17-2008, 02:20 AM
wow, I have never heard of an athlete returning from any form of acl surgery in less than a week...

I would be pleasantly surprised to see him back before wcc play

cjm720
07-17-2008, 08:24 AM
I can speak from experience, I would think that brings some cred to me.

I did a partial tear in HS, no surgery though. I did it on a Friday, cleared by the PT, and practiced, that following Wednesday.

ps. I would have quoted Hova here but "passin the bar" doesn't hold the same footing, now does it?


You sure you didn't tear some cartlidge? :) Amazing if not!

IrishZag
07-17-2008, 08:36 AM
While it is possible to recover from a partial ACL tear without surgery I highly doubt Austin and his Doctors would elect to do that.

I had a partial tear to my left ACL when I was 14, I rehabbed and came back after 5 months without surgery and I managed to play 4 years of high school soccer and 2 years of basketball, and in college I played competitive Ultimate Frisbee (sort of an oxymoron I know). The muscles and tendons around your knee can compensate for your ACL reasonably well, but you lose a lot of lateral quickness as you are constantly overcompensating and guarding your knee. Personally, I dealt with a number of IT band, Hip Flexor, and Hamstring issues over the course of long intense seasons. After nine years of dealing with constant knee pain I gave in and had an ACL replacement surgery with the Orthopedic Surgeon from the Denver Nuggets.

It's a tough surgery with a long recovery time. After a year my knee is still not what I would classify as close to 100%. While I am not a full time athlete with trainers and doctors monitoring me regularly, I did work pretty hard between PT, a plyometrics program, and gym workouts 5 days a week. When I initially returned to the field, so much of my agility, strength and explosion disappeared because of muscle atrophy. On top I have nagging injuries in neighboring muscles because I am still compensating for the lack of strength in the surgical leg.

A couple of athletes have successfully returned from partially torn ACL's without surgery. Sean Elliot and John Elway being the two most notable examples, but in the recent years it is extremely rare to see that. Because Austin has aspirations of playing in the NBA and he runs the risk of another significant injury by not having surgery I imagine he will have surgery. There isn't really a minor ACL replacement surgery, so for now I would give up on him returning prior to February and hope that he makes a complete recovery.

Das Zagger
07-17-2008, 07:59 PM
wow, I have never heard of an athlete returning from any form of acl surgery in less than a week...

I would be pleasantly surprised to see him back before wcc play

It was pretty much luck on my part. But it looks like you're going to get your wish.