- Eamonn Brennan, ESPN Staff Writer
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Offseason college basketball injuries can take many forms, but this has to be a first.
Incoming Georgia freshman Dusan Langura, a preferred walk-on who played his final two seasons of high school hoops at Furtah Prep in Acworth, Ga, is also a native of Switzerland, where he and all males older than 18 are required to serve in the military. Langura was doing exactly that recently when a bomb exploded. He received multiple injuries from the blast, including a torn ACL, as Georgia coach Mark Fox revealed to the Macon Telegraph on Monday night:
"It really is a unique story," Fox said [...]. "He was injured in the explosion, and one of the injuries was a torn ACL. We had committed to have him come. He can really shoot the ball. He was gonna be on our team. He had to serve his military commitment, and this happened during it. We're still gonna honor our commitment to him, and once he gets healthy he'll be out there with us. But he probably won't be cleared to practice until January or February."
"Unique" is one way of putting it. "Insane" might be another. The biggest question is this: What was a bomb doing so close to an 18-year-old basketball player? And why is he in the military anyway?
In fact, Langura is in the Swiss military because every Swiss male is conscripted into the Swiss military -- even Roger Federer. Wait, isn't Switzerland a (famously) neutral country? It is. But despite 200 years without participation in armed conflict, World War II and the Cold War left the Swiss feeling the need to maintain a large standing army, just in case. (Really, can you blame them?) For decades, Swiss males between the age of 18 and 50 have been required to enlist; they keep their uniform, weapon, and ammunition in their homes, sort of like Canadians' boxes of faith. In the past 20 years, a popular distaste for the military tradition has led to the creation of the civil service -- this is where Roger Federer served -- and the reduction of active troops down to 400,000 (in 1995) and then 200,000 (in 2003). The Swiss have a saying: "Switzerland does not have an army. It is an army."
That doesn't exactly explain how Langura was injured, or why apparently bombs are going off during training exercises. (Unless the Swiss army is secretly at war and we don't know about it, it's safe to assume this was an exercise.) But it does give us a chance to discuss Swiss military culture in what might be the deadest college hoops week of the year to date -- and to explain how a Georgia walk-on got there in the first place.
Hopefully, when Langura recovers and has the chance to talk about his experience, he can explain further. He'll have quite the story to tell.