Sports Illustrated’s Luke Winn caught up with former Northwestern forward Kevin Coble yesterday. If you remember, Coble left the Northwestern team back in July. He was dealing with a serious foot injury at the time, and the consensus seemed to be that Coble wanted to focus on his academics and his life beyond basketball.
That wasn’t entirely accurate, as Coble made clear in an email to Winn:
“One of the reasons for me leaving the team,” Coble wrote in an e-mail, “was in response to repeated ultimatums by [Wildcats coach Bill] Carmody stating, ‘You either go on the Italy trip, or you can’t be a part of this program.’ … “The fact was my surgeon was not releasing me to begin playing with the team until September 15th,” Coble wrote. “With that, I was not comfortable being in Europe during my last stages of rehabilitation. The medical treatment plan had me working with my physical therapists until that September 15th release date. Coach Carmody and I met multiple times in July in order to reach a resolution that wouldn’t be so drastic, but unfortunately we were unable to come to an agreement. I had to choose what was in the long term best interest of my foot.”
Coaches rushing players back from injury is nothing new. So in that regard Coble deserves some kudos for standing up for his health.
That said, one thing I learned very quickly playing sports is that there is a major difference between when you are truly healthy and when you are healthy enough to play. I don’t know the specifics of the Coble situation, but I do know that doctors without experience in sports will almost always recommend a longer healing time than a sports trainer.
You can play on a sprained ankle before its 100% healed, but you are risking further injury to the ankle doing so. Nasir Robinson of Pitt was supposed to miss 10 games following knee surgery, but returned last night in Pitt’s fourth game of the season. Player’s that want to be on the court will do everything they can to get back on the court as quickly as possible.
If Northwestern’s trainers were saying that Coble was ready to play, can you blame Carmody for wanting an all-Big Ten player in the lineup?