This basketball season hasn't gone the way Keith Cooper hoped.
First, the Saint Martin’s coach lost his two young centers, freshman Alex Williams and sophomore Matt Dodson. Both are out for the season, recovering from knee surgeries. Williams, a Capital graduate, tore the same anterior cruciate ligament he injured as a junior in high school.
Dodson had surgery to repair the patella ligament in both knees.
“I had planned on redshirting one of them,” Cooper said.
But not both of them.
Cooper, an optimist, sees a bright side to the injuries.
“I’ll be happy three years from now when they’re both still playing for me,” Cooper said. “They’ll also be able to push each other in rehab.”
On Saturday, Cooper’s wish list for the season suffered another setback. His Saints lost at Seattle Pacific, 74-71, after a last-chance 3-pointer missed.
“If we had been playing anyone else, we’d probably have won,” Cooper said.
After falling behind 58-48 in the second half, Saint Martin’s rallied to tie the score at 68 on Roger O’Neill’s jumper. But SPU All-America guard Chris Banchero sank late two baskets to pull out a win.
Saint Martin’s hasn’t won at SPU since 1982. Cooper was hoping to end that streak Saturday.
“Looking at our rosters, I thought we had a shot at winning there,” Cooper said. “It’s been a long time.”
For Williams and Dodson, their focus is on rehab. Williams just got the staples out of his knee from surgery. But the 6-foot-8 freshman has been at practices running the clock and scoreboard during scrimmages. The Saints’ stars of tomorrow are on crutches today.
Cooper has encouraged his two injured centers by telling them they’ll get another year of college education – free. And through a rigid rehab, they’ll come back stronger.
“I told them that when God closes a door, he opens a window,” the coach said. “This is unfortunate, but now we’re going to get it 105 percent rehabbed. Their knees will be better.”
Cooper, who played basketball at SPU, appreciates the value of a good surgery and a demanding rehab. Following an injury, he deals with a cranky knee that’s undergone two major surgeries.
“Plus it’s going to be good for them to work out together,” Cooper said. “They’ll get to know each other and they’ll be able to push each other.”
Dodson played in the exhibition game against the University of Washington, then had tests that showed the tears in the patella tendons. Williams played in six games, then had a magnetic resonance imaging test on his sore knee, leading to surgery.
BARNES CHASING HIS FOOTBALL DREAM
Bobby Barnes hasn’t given up his dream of playing college football at a four-year school.
After sitting out of football for two years, the 2007 Timberline graduate played defensive back for South Puget Sound Community College the past season. He’s hoping to get noticed by college recruiters.
“I’ll be back at South Puget Sound unless someone offers me a scholarship,” Barnes said.
In high school, Barnes was an all-state wide receiver.
Eastern Washington and Portland State recruited him. He ended up playing one season at Mesa Community College in Arizona, getting in only one game.
“I really didn’t like it there and I found myself back at home,” Barnes said.
At SPSCC this season, Barnes showed his game-changing speed on three kick-return touchdowns – two on kickoffs, the other on a punt. He also intercepted three passes.
“They felt I could have a bigger impact on defense,” Barnes said. “But my heart is still at receiver. I’ll play wherever they want me to.”
Gail Wood: 360-754-5443 email@example.com www.theolympian.com/sports/blog