Jan. 17, 2013
By Gary Ozzello
FORT COLLINS, Colo. - The easy, comforting smile has returned to Jesse Carr’s face.
The senior from Ainsworth, Neb., was supposed to be an integral part of Colorado State’s men’s basketball team in 2012-13, coach Larry Eustachy’s first in Fort Collins.
But Carr’s career took a painful detour about four months ago, when he suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee which required surgical repair. And as his season quickly disappeared due to the injury, so, too, did his easy smile.
Instead of being on the floor with current members of the team – most of whom he helped recruit to Fort Collins – he sits not so idly along the sidelines, anxious to return to action next season if granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA.
“To see the guys who built the program together, it’s tough not to be on the floor,” said Carr of his teammates – and roommates.
Carr was one of the first recruits inked by former coach Tim Miles. Carr, in the fold, convinced Pierce Hornung and Dorian Green to join him in Fort Collins, along with fellow Nebraskans Greg and Dwight Smith. When Wes Eikmeier, another Cornhusker State native, left Iowa State, Carr aided in his relocation west. Center Colton Iverson, from Yankton, S.D., chose to leave Minnesota, he joined the Rams’ program, and now shares living quarters with Carr, Eikmeier and Green.
So while his injury hurt, it was also painful to sit on the sidelines and watch his friends and teammates compete on the floor. That pain was eased by a conversation Carr had with Eustachy.
His smile returned as well following the discussion with CSU’s first-year coach.
Having already redshirted during the 2009-10 season due to a different injury, Carr was contemplating whether or not to return for a sixth year at CSU.
“What I heard from him – that he wanted me back – really helped,” said Carr of his decision to return next season. “I will have a chance to lead the younger guys next year.”
Eustachy’s comforting words, along with, “Lots of prayer and lots of family,” helped guide Carr through a difficult time. He admits immediately following the injury, he didn’t talk to anyone.
“I didn’t talk to anyone for a week. They understood. I talked with (assistant coach) Niko (Medved). I’ve been close to him since I got here. He helped me get back on the horse. It helped to be back around the team.”
Carr had originally thought about not coming back for his final year. Such thoughts gradually disappeared as the pain from the injury eased.
“College basketball can be a grind. It’s a year-round thing, but I’m looking forward to getting back on the court,” Carr said. “All it took was to be around the guys on the court for the first exhibition game, and I knew I wanted to come back.”
Carr’s current rehabilitation includes a gradual increase in leg exercises such as “step-ups” and lunges, as well as plenty of discussion with his teammates.
“This is a great group of guys,” he said in describing a team en route to one of the top seasons in school history. “They are really smart, with good experience, and they know what they are doing.”
Even with that experience, Carr and his teammates spend time reviewing on-court action.
“We have fun rehashing the game,” he said with a smile. “It’s good stuff. I offer advice, because I see it from a different angle than either the coaches or the players. I try to reinforce what is going on. We go home, talk about it, and go over it.”
Carr also smiles when he talks about being “that guy” next year.
“I’ll be like ‘grandpa’ next year, ‘that guy’ who is 24 years old,” he joked.
Larry Eustachy and his staff will be more than happy to have ‘that guy’ back on the floor next year.
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