June 25, 2014
By Matt Winkeljohn
The Good Word
These guys are big on dishing out assists. They share.
Moving beyond the obvious – they are both chiefly point guards – Heyward and Jorgenson are roommates, and then there are the knees. Jeez, Louise, the knees!
Both ball players have blown one out, each tearing an anterior cruciate ligament to scuttle their initial seasons on The Flats. Heyward: left (twice); Jorgenson: right (in the fourth game last fall as a freshman).
Travis is not much of a talker, or at least hasn’t been in his year or so on campus, so when you ask if having Heyward to counsel on the ups and downs of rehabilitation has been anything of a bonus, he’ll start.
And Heyward will finish.
It went like this:
Jorgenson: “Sure. [Athletic trainer] Richard [Stewart] is awesome, but having another guy on the team who has been through it . . . sometimes you feel like you’re on your own, and it’s good to talk to him about it . . . “
And Heyward chimes in with much more:
“I would say every other day we talk about [Bees’ knees] . . . like he’ll ask me, `Does your knee ever feel this way when you’re sitting at a desk?’ I’ll say, `Yes, stretch it out.’ . . . I totally get what you’re going through.
“I might say, `Your time will come; everything happens for a reason.’ My mom always preaches that . . . I feel like I’m guiding him. I tell him, `Keep doing what you’re doing.’
“I know it’s going to suck sometimes when we’re doing pickup [games], and he’s in the weight room doing rehab. I know how that feels. It sucks, but you have to fight through it.”
Heyward is changing. It’s easy to see that his vibe has modified.
You wouldn’t know from watching him play the latter half of last season — when head coach Brian Gregory had little choice but to ram the 6-foot-1 bull into the lineup — that he earned first team All-State honors in 2011 as a senior at Peachtree Ridge High.
For the Jackets, he barely shot.
Although his playing time ramped up after Christmas because of the earlier injury to Jorgenson, guard Solomon Poole’s dismissal and injuries and occasional foul trouble for senior guard Trae Golden, Heyward never scored big.
He defended quite like a beast much of the time, but in 32 games – including 15 starts – he tried but 35 shots.
Heyward made 10 of those, although he was 6-for-14 from beyond the 3-point arc, and his assist-to-turnover numbers were solid: 45/26.
The two most notable markers on Heyward were clear. He scored 32 points in 32 games (playing 527 minutes), and he was thick.
So, in the post-season exit interview with Heyward, Gregory said in so many words, “Definitely get my handle better, [build] confidence in my shot in game-like situations, and the big key was also my body. I’m motivated to get lean and mean and so far it’s been helping.”
Heyward has lost more than 20 pounds since season’s end, and looks more like a cruiserweight MMA fighter than a hoopster.
“I was big . . . I wasn’t really processing [the downside of] all the weight on my knee. I kind of liked the whole masculine, football body, kind of having that rip. But then I also like it being easier on my knee, more quickness, getting my jumping ability back to where it was.”
Here, the roles flipped themselves before Heyward could say anything about his football bloodlines.
His late father, Craig, was a fine NFL running back from Pitt, older brother Cameron was one of the best defensive linemen in Ohio State history. He plays for the Steelers now, heaven help him.
Despite the transition that availed itself there, Jorgenson – who just may be changing as well – piped up.
It was a low pipe. He’s not loud, but he had something to say, a piggyback of Heyward’s effusive praise for strength and conditioning coach Mike Bewley and trainer Stewart.
“You can tell; he’s a lot quicker, he’s been jumping higher and he’s getting up and down the court,” he reported.
Jorgenson has not been fully cleared yet to participate in all activities.
He was not involved Friday when teammates were jacking heavy sandbags around in the parking lot outside of the Zelnak center, and the 6-footer is not allowed to play full ball yet.
That’s a struggle, sometimes more than others.
“It’s physical and mental. It’ll be seven months [this] week [since the injury],” he said. “They’re going to wait until it’s necessary for me to play . . . It’s not like during games is the worst part every time, or during practice is the worst every time or being by yourself is the worst.
“It just depends on what is going on that week, your mood. I know I’ve gotten a lot stronger upper body-wise since I was injured, and the whole rehab is getting my lower body ready.”
Again, Heyward has something to add, an assist.
From experience, he knows that if you push too hard on the way back from a torn ACL and surgery you can tear that ligament again.
“Travis needs to take his time and be smart; there is a chance we could be on the court at the same time,” Heyward said. “When you’re by yourself it gives you time to think and you think a little too much, which can be a bad thing sometimes.
“You can’t think about, `Why me?’ You’ve got to think about [the team]. Those guys have your back. When you’re by yourself, you can think a little crazy sometimes.”
Good thing Yin has Yang around to keep that from happening.
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