Posted on: December 14, 2011 1:19 pm
By Jeff Goodman
After Luke Apfeld did it for the third time, in a preseason game as a freshman at Vermont, one of his former coaches suggested he sign up for a Facebook page.
"It was for anyone who had torn their ACL three times," The Catamounts one-time ultra-athletic forward said. "Now I'm an official member."
Apfeld can joke about it now, since he's as healthy as he's been since first tearing his right knee in a summer event in July of 2008. But this is no joke. Imagine going through the arduous rehab process three times.
Apfeld suffered the first injury prior to committing to Vermont in July of 2008. Then he rehabbed and tore the ACL in his other knee in the second practice of his senior year at Brewster Academy -- in January of 2009. Then came another rehab stint followed by yet another knee injury, this one coming in November of 2009 when he tore the right one again.
That's three within about a 16-month span. Enough to make just about anyone throw in the towel.
"I thought about giving up basketball," Apfeld admitted. "My doctor wanted me to hang it up, that the risk after doing it three times is as high as it can be. He told my parents that my body wouldn't be able to take it if it happened again."
But Apfeld had put so much into three rehabs to get onto the court and he had yet to play a college basketball game.
Now Apfeld is a starter, as a redshirt sophomore, at Vermont. He's second on the team in scoring (9.8 ppg) and rebounding (4.1 rpg) while playing 21.7 minutes per game.
"It's worked out," Apfeld said. "I've kept my fingers crossed and am keeping them crossed."
Apfeld's game has changed due to the injuries. He's no longer a pogo stick and has now worked on his skill, which fits well into new coach John Becker's flex system.
"I remember being able to jump off one leg really well," he said. "I can't do that anymore. Now I'm more of a two-foot guy. ... I know I'll never get that athleticism I used to have back."
But Apfeld is fine with that - as long as he can remain healthy and continue to be a key contributor.
"It's definitely a relief to see results," he said. "Everyone talks about how hard work pays off, but for the first couple years I didn't really see any results on the court. It feels good now that all the work and rehabs have paid off."
Since Apfeld is an expert in terms of coming back from major knee injuries (I'm not sure there's anyone else who has suffered three torn ACL's and returned), he's got some advice.
"The physical part of the rehab is the easiest thing," Apfeld added. "The most difficult part is the mental aspect. You've got to keep the faith and know you're going to get back on the court. Keep that mindset, come in ready to work every day."
Posted on: July 12, 2011 9:24 am
Edited on: July 12, 2011 9:28 am
By Jeff Goodman
Posted on: March 1, 2011 12:10 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2012 10:53 pm
The America East tournament format is certainly unique. While many conference tournaments have different ways of rewarding higher seeds and/or deciding how its respective bracket is formed, the America East chooses to have a neutral site — this year, it’s Hartford, as it was in 2010 — for its first round, quarterfinals and semis, then has the highest remaining seed host the title game.
It’s a system that puts everyone on a level playing field until the title game. Make it that far, and your regular-season play is rewarded. I’m a big fan, even if it’s not perfect. Only the Horizon, with its double-bye into the conference semifinals for the high seeds, is a better format. The America East also has the largest layoff between semifinals and finals — six days. Play begins on Thursday and wraps up Saturday night. The two remaining teams will play for a 16 seed (no doubt this conference is getting a 16; the power numbers have, well, no power) on March 13. Is that a good thing? I don’t know, but it’s done for television purposes, clearly.
So what are we looking at this year? Well, at 13-3, Vermont (22-7) won the league. Boston University, which for so long stood tall over the AE, finished second with a 12-4 record. Vermont wasn’t supposed to be this good, but behind Evan Fjeld, he of the epic mustache, and Brian Voelkel, coach Mike Lonergan has UVM on the verge of getting back to The Tournament for the first time since this happened. And how awesome that was.
Boston (18-13) is considered the team with the best play as of late, though, and it’s led by John Holland (right), who is the conference’s best player. It does seem like a two-team race. Maine (9-7), Albany (9-7) and Stony Brook (8-8) are lumped into that mediocre category, and Hartford (7-9) will have to fuel playing on its home court into an upset or two.
The team with the best chance to keep a game close is Vermont, as the Catamounts played well with UConn early and have solid size and quickness for a program at this level. Fjeld is sneaky good and a very efficient shooter because he's crafty in how he scores close to the hoop. And I do not veil it at all: I grew up 10 minutes from the UVM campus, and when the Cats do well, I’m happy. Would love to see them win this thing.
Title game: Sunday, March 12, ESPN2.
Conference RPI: 28
KenPom.com rating: 29
Sagarin rating: 29
NCAA Tournament Locks: None
NCAA Tournament Bubble Teams: None
Last NCAA Tournament Appearance:
Albany Great Danes: 2007, 13 seed, an 84-57 loss to Virginia
Binghamton Bearcats: 2009, 15 seed, an 86-62 loss to Duke
Boston University Terriers: 2002, 16 seed, a 90-52 loss to Cincinnati
Hartford Hawks: N/A
Maine Black Bears: N/A
Maryland-Baltimore County Retrievers: 2008, 15 seed, a 66-47 loss to Georgetown
New Hampshire Wildcats: N/A
Stony Brook Seawolves: N/A
Vermont Catamounts: 2005, 13 seed, a 60-57 win over Syracuse in the first round followed by a 72-61 loss to Michigan State in the second round
Photo: US Presswire