HPU’s Brown clicks on all cylinders
When the High Point University men’s basketball team began practice last Monday, sophomore post player John Brown motored up and down the court at full speed.
That was the opposite from his condition Feb. 27 after two minutes in the next-to-last regular season game of the year. Brown felt a pain in his foot on a drive to the basket against Radford and then limped to the bench, the victim of a broken metatarsal in his right foot.
“He’s good to go,” HPU coach Scott Cherry said. “Knock on wood he’s 100 percent. He got cleared June 1. He was here during the summer working out and he’s getting bigger, stronger, faster, and doing what John does.”
Brown knew immediately what the injury was when it happened. He had the same feeling at practice during his freshman year, while he was waiting to become academically eligible.
“I drove down the lane and planted and that was it,” Brown said. “I didn’t think I did anything too major but I guess it was too much for it. It was a horrible feeling.
“I felt a pinch and I was hoping it wasn’t that. So I said ‘OK, let me run down (the court).’ I was running on my toes but then when I put my foot down, I couldn’t do it. I knew it was that because I did the exact same thing when it happened before. It was like déjà vu all over again, except this was in a game-type situation.”
The Panthers had clinched the Big South’s North division championship and were a favorite to win the league’s tournament with Brown in the lineup.
Without his 16.4 points per game and 6.1 rebounds pee game, HPU won its regular-season finale but lost its first game in the conference tournament, then fell in the first round of the CollegeInsider.com tournament.
“What killed me the most is I was thinking, why at this time?” Brown recalled. “We only had three games left. I had to get myself together and support my team so they could go out there and do what they had to do. I wouldn’t say that I would want an injury but I would have liked for it to happen earlier so I would have had time to come back before the end of the season.”
Brown was in a cast and walking boot for 13 weeks while the small bone healed.
“My own foot couldn’t touch the ground,” Brown said.
Cherry said Brown was kept in the boot past the usual 8-10 week recovery period because there was no need to rush him back into action.
“Knowing John and how hard he does anything whether it is lifting weights or practicing or playing pickup games, we extended it a little bit to give the foot time to completely heal. And there was no rush because there was nothing going on in April or May. The first time out he was playing five-on-five, he was going up and down the court like he normally does.”
Once out of the boot, Brown underwent examination at the school’s biomechanics lab to determine why he had twice suffered metatarsal breaks.
“They can put sensors in your shoes and test you when you walk and run to see where all the stress is being placed on the foot,” Cherry said. “It showed there was pressure on the outside of the foot where he fractured it, so they made some orthotics to spread that stress across his foot.”
After being on the sidelines for the 13 weeks, Brown conceded that he lost a bit of his stamina.
“I wouldn’t say I was out of shape but I wasn’t where I was. I lost my wind a little bit. I’ve slowly built it back up so know I’m where I need to be. I lost a little bit of wind but the trainer pushed me.”
The injury also has given him renewed purpose.
“I’m going to practice and play harder, try to be the best I can be because I realize that everything can be taken away in the blink of an eye,” Brown said.