One player does not make a team, but one player can make everything
fit better together. For the North Daviess basketball team that player
is senior point guard Nick Crays.
When the Cougars open their season Nov. 24 at Washington Catholic,
they will welcome back Crays who has undergone a hard fought rehab
since he he played his final game of the 2011-12 season Jan. 13 at
home against Shakamak.
Crays was suffering from patella tendinitis, an arthritic condition
that is often called jumper’s disease. The injury required surgery and
a six to nine month rehab. With the season opener less than three
weeks away, Cougars head coach Brent Dalrymple has liked what he has
seen in practice so far from Crays.
“I think when he plays now, he is back to what he was before,”
Dalyrymple said. “The problem is he can’t do it every single day right
now. Once he plays, then he needs two, three, four days of rest before
he can do it again.”
To try to keep him fresh as they move towards the season, Crays will
be limited in dribbling and shooting drills with the rest of the team.
He will do a lot of stretching and will use an exercise bike. Crays
does, however get to participate in five-on-five drills with the rest
of the team. Dalrymple said ultimately Crays will make the call on how
much he exerts himself on a daily basis.
“Last year from the beginning of the season on, I knew my knees were
worse than what they had been, because I’ve dealt with tendinitis
since I was a freshman,” Crays said. “I knew it was getting worse, and
he kept asking me if I was ok, and I kept saying no I’m fine. After
last year I have learned I have to be healthy for the games on Friday
The Cougars were 10-3 following the Shakamak loss, but they struggled
down the stretch without Crays. The Cougars went 6-4 down the stretch,
which included a 55-43 sectional loss to Shoals on their way to a
disappointing 16-7 finish a year after Crays led the team to
semi-state. Dalrymple said obviously the team is better with Crays out
there, but last year the Cougars got a taste of what life is like
without Crays on the floor.
“We’ve had other guys that had to step up,” Dalrymple said. “We’ve had
other guys step up all summer, Nick didn’t play all summer either. We
probably played 18-20 games this summer, and he played in two of them.
We’re hoping that we are deeper, that other kids have taken on more of
a leadership role. As we plug him back in that can only help us.”
Doctors have told Crays he should be back to full strength a full 12
months after the surgery. Dalrymple and Crays hope this bodes well for
the Cougars postseason prospects.
“Coach and I were talking, we could have the best teams to come
through North Daviess in a while,” Crays said. “If something were to
happen and my knees were sore on double weekends, and say I have to
sit one game and play the other one, and pick the more important one
to us, our record could suffer. We look to be going full strength once
we get into February and March.”