Tim Marshall raises the SUNYAC Championship trophy above his head in celebration (photo courtesy of localsyr.com)
With basketball season over, Tim Marshall and his teammates can know focus more of their energy on the, “student,” part of their status as student-athletes. However, while getting ready for class, Tim has to do one thing his teammates don’t; strap on his knee brace to support the torn ACL in his right knee.
“Right now I’m just happy I don’t have to sleep with it on,” said Marshall. “I had to do that for the first 11 days after the surgery and I was trying to get away with unbuckling it just because it was so uncomfortable.”
Marshall tore his ACL towards the end of a February practice before the senior day game against Cortland. “We were playing a scrimmage. I cut to the basket, got the ball and tried to stop quick. That’s when my knee went backwards and I felt a pop,” said Marshall. “We knew it didn’t look good,” said teammate Brandan Gartland.
Marshall, however, had a much deeper understanding of the situation. “Well, I tore my ACL during my junior year of high school too, and the pop felt similar, so I knew something pretty serious happened.”
In high school, Marshall suffered the same injury to the opposite knee, an experience he remembers quite well. “I feel like having gone through this before will be a little bit of an advantage to me,” said Marshall, looking at the silver lining. “I have a better idea of the injury’s timeline, and I know how my body has responded to the injury and the rehab in the past.”
Senior forward Allen Durutovic described the atmosphere in practice after the injury as, “a pretty ugly scene.”
“We knew something was wrong when he went down,” said Durutovic. “We knew he had dealt with that injury in the past, so you’re just hoping for the best. But, based on how Tim reacted we knew it was bad.”
The timing of Marshall’s injury was less than ideal, as was the tear in high school. “That first tear happened when I was hoping to get a scholarship offer, but knowing there was still going to be guaranteed basketball in my future, said Marshall. “This time it hits home a little more knowing that this is my senior year and this injury is going to cut into my last season with the guys.”
The Lakers dropped three of their next four games after Tim’s injury averaging 61.5 points per game, a far cry from their average of 77.4 in the 19 games prior. Head coach Jason Leone lamented that fact that his roster was limited coming down the stretch.
When we lost Tim, obviously that was a big deal, because we didn’t end up playing any guards off the bench,” said coach Leone. “Quinn (Carey) Brandan (Gartland) and Liam (Sanborn) in many games, seldom came out of the game.”
The Lakers were able to find their footing again in the postseason, winning the SUNYAC Championship and matching their deepest NCAA Tournament run with an appearance in the Sweet Sixteen.
Marshall was there every step of the way, supporting his teammates during games the same way they support him on his journey back. “Obviously, what most people see is his outward enthusiasm on the bench during games, but Tim’s a very genuine person, a hardworking person,” said coach Leone. “He really does a good job of being a teacher to our younger players, being a mentor to them.”
Of course, Marshall was forced to go through a much different perspective of an NCAA Tournament run. “Honestly, it was hard not to be out there,” said Marshall. “Obviously, these are my guys and I’m going to be there for them no matter what, but I remember thinking to myself in the locker room before these games, ‘man I’d do anything to be out there.’”
Marshall has already begun physical therapy and said he is expected to be cleared by January of next year.
“My mentality right now is just to get back on the court,” said Marshall. “I’m just going at the doctor’s pace, not trying to rush anything, because with less than a full season left of basketball, you have to realize that the ball is going to stop bouncing eventually.”