Monday, November 5, 2012
Chaney reacts to first game in three years Allan Chaney was incredibly nervous to play Mars Hill.
This wasn't a game in the SEC, where he used to play for Florida. This wasn't Duke or North Carolina, the two schools he was hoping to go against when he made the decision to leave the Gators and transfer to Virginia Tech.
This was Mars Hill, in an exhibition. And he was playing for High Point University.
And you know what? He couldn't be happier to be on the court competing.
Chaney scored 16 points, grabbed six boards and blocked two shots in Saturday's game. He has a chance, alongside JC forward John Brown, to put High Point in contention for the Big South championship.
"It felt great to be out there for 40 minutes," Chaney said. "The first half was so nerve-wracking. But the second half I was straight. I don't know what to say about it. It was so stressful, having to be patient and not knowing when I would play again. I had this opportunity to play Saturday and I'm so grateful."
Earlier Monday afternoon, Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com detailed at length Chaney's struggles over the past two years to get to this point.
Chaney is playing with an implanted wireless defibrillator and on Saturday wore a vest to protect his chest. Former Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg, now an ESPN analyst, said he used to battle with Chaney to get him to wear the protective vest. But it was a moot point anyway. Chaney was never cleared to play by the school's medical staff after he collapsed on April 24, 2010, during an individual workout.
Greenberg couldn't be happier for Chaney, whom he spoke with Monday and congratulated on making it back on the court. The Greenberg family and Chaney became close once he arrived in Blacksburg and the families still stay in touch.
Greenberg said his wife, Karen, found Dr. Francis Marchlinski at Penn through a mutual friend. Marchlinski ultimately was the one who cleared Chaney to play again.
But Chaney needed to find a place to play. High Point coach Scott Cherry said he was informed of Chaney's situation when they had a scholarship open up. Greenberg had been fired and was replaced by former assistant James Johnson, a friend and former fellow assistant at George Mason with Cherry. Cherry said he did his due diligence checking on Chaney with doctors, family and, of course, the university.
"We felt like the risk was something we could take on," he said. "I don't want to say it was easy, but it was smoother than we thought. Our administration and medical staff on campus didn't see anything that stood out. They read all the medical reports. Our cardiologist in town was familiar with Dr. Marchlinski. He respected his work and believed very much in his report that he was cleared to play and should be fine.''
Allan Chaney hasn't played a regular-season college hoops game since 2009.
Of course, there was the NCAA to get through, too.
Chaney played one season at Florida. He was now 22 years old. He had to get a waiver to play immediately and get a sixth year of eligibility back.
Cherry said the waiver had to be submitted since Chaney had graduated from school and was a 4-4-4 transfer, going to his third four-year school. Cherry said the waiver for him to play this season came back positive immediately. Getting the second waiver to get him a sixth year of eligibility took a personal note from Chaney detailing his medical hardship.
"The first one came through in two to three days," recalled Cherry, "but the second one had to take longer since Allan had to write his personal statement."
"I just explained what had happened and what I had been going through the last two years," Chaney said. "I talked about all the back-and-forth with doctors and explained my one year at Florida and presented my medical records and the steps it took me to get back to this point. I was fortunate to get back these years. It's a blessing."
The second waiver came through two weeks ago, giving Chaney two seasons of eligibility remaining.
"I applaud the NCAA for granting this kid the second year," Cherry said. "He deserves it. We're really excited."
There are conditions and precautions being taken.
Cherry said Chaney has to wear the protective vest. He said that a defibrillator is at practice and workouts and all the staff, including the coaches, have been trained on how to use it. He said the defibrillator, which is there as a secondary emergency device in addition to his implant, goes with the team and Chaney wherever he travels -- in a restaurant, on the bus, in the locker room and in the hotel.
"It has to be hands-on, no matter what," Cherry said. "That's the only additional thing to do with him. We won't also give him any punishment runs. But he's a great kid so there is no need to worry."
Cherry said Chaney's conditioning still isn't up to speed yet, which is to be expected.
"He's like a true freshman or a JC kid," he said. "When he gets a little more active he can get more fatigued. He tends to stand around and watch. But to have a 6-9 player that skilled who can shoot 3s and has length and can rebound at our level -- we're blessed to have a guy of his caliber."
Cherry said he will work the offense through Chaney and Brown, beginning with Friday's opener against a fellow North Carolina alumnus in Wes Miller of UNC Greensboro.
"Nobody can do the things like Allan and John, so we'll rely on their balanced scoring," Cherry said.
The head coach is also hopeful guards Derrell Edwards and Justin Cheek will give him his most balanced team in his four seasons at High Point.
"I've never had frontcourt scoring like this," Cherry said. "We were picked third in our division but nobody has seen Allan. He's an unknown right now. John Brown sat out last year. He couldn't practice. I brought in six other guys, and two will start. It's a new team with talent. We've got a chance. I feel like this is the best team I've had since I've been here. We've got good guys at every position. We've got a team that has a chance to fight for a championship this year."
Chaney doesn't want to think about the two years he has remaining in college, per the NCAA.
Instead, he's dealing with each day as a gift.
"I can't look too far ahead," Chaney said. "It's one game, one day at a time. I'm just trying to get better every day."