BSU Star Progressing After Surgery

BSU Star Progressing After Surgery

The Star Press

BSU Star Progressing After Surgery
By Doug Zaleski

MUNCIE – Ball State basketball standout Theron Smith came to a significant stage Monday in his recovery from reconstructive knee surgery when he jogged for the first time since being injured 6 weeks ago today.

“I was kind of anxious about it, but it felt great,” Smith said.

Smith jogged in the controlled setting of an underwater treadmill in the Hydroworx rehabilitation pool in Ball State’s football training building. The action marked a continued progression in Smith’s rehab program.

“It’s a good breakthrough,” Ball State associate athletic trainer Tony Cox said. “You would hope that around 4 weeks [after surgery] you’d be in the jogging phase.”

Smith tore the anterior-cruciate ligament in his right knee May 28 during a workout for the Toronto Raptors. It ended his exploration into early entry in the NBA draft, and he announced 6 days later he would return to Ball State next season to play his senior year.

Smith had surgery June 7 and has been receiving twice-a-day therapy 7 days a week with Cox at his side every step of the way.

There are times Smith wants to progress too rapidly, work too hard, in his quest to return for the 2002-03 basketball season. Cox said normal recovery time from the surgery was 4-6 months – which would allow Smith to compete next season – but regaining complete health usually took a full year.

“I couldn’t ask more of him,” Cox said. “On a scale of 10, it’s a 10 every day. He expects to do more every day. There are times I have to tone him down, but I wouldn’t expect anything different out of him.”

Smith works out 2 hours every morning and 2 hours every afternoon with Cox. The rest of Smith’s days this summer are filled by visiting with friends, watching television and playing video games.

“I’m the top PlayStation 2 player in the country right now,” Smith said.

The toughest mental challenges for Smith to overcome are not being able to go home to Florida to see his family and to stay away from Gym II, where many of his teammates play pickup games during the summer.

He hasn’t been home since Christmas and might not get back until next Christmas. He doesn’t go to the gym to watch his teammates because the urge to join them would be too great.

“I would want to play, too, and I can’t,” Smith said. “It would be too hard to watch right now. I’m just trying to stay positive and be patient, but it’s tough.”

Smith won’t be able to take part in individual instruction drills when they begin for Ball State’s players in late August, but he has targeed a return to full practice in late October.

His conditioning with Cox in August and September will include simple basketball drills tailored specifically to his stage of recovery.

“I’d be doing the same thing with anybody, but in his case his livelihood is on the line, and I want to be cautious by not putting him in a precarious situation,” Cox said.

Cox said the first stage of rehab for Smith was to regain full range of motion and strength in the knee. The next phase of recovery will include more weight bearing exercises for his trunk, abdomen and lower back.

Smith said Ball State fans shouldn’t worry about his recovery. He said he would be a stronger and tougher player next season, and he promised there would be hell to pay for opponents. The incision in his knee – 5 inches long with a 2-inch cut intersecting near the top – resembles a cross.

“That’s so I can crucify people next year,” Smith said.

Contact Doug Zaleski at dzaleski@thestarpress.com or 213-5813.

Copyright 2002 The Star Press.

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