Washington coach Lorenzo Romar and senior star Quincy Pondexter brought gifts to Texas A&M's injured Derrick Roland on Wednesday. Roland underwent surgery after breaking both bones in his lower leg Tuesday in a loss to the Huskies.
They had to see him. To make sure he was OK. And to let him know their compassion is bigger than a basketball game.
It didn’t matter that they didn’t know Texas A&M senior guard Derrick Roland.
What was important: He was hurt. He was virtually alone. And he was in Seattle, thousands of miles from home.
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“We’re opponents on the floor, but off the floor it’s got nothing to do with competition or battle,” Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said. “We’re all human beings. We get caught up in this game sometimes, but that’s just a microcosm of what life is all about.”
After Wednesday’s morning practice, Romar, assistant Raphael Chillious and senior Quincy Pondexter made a pilgrimage across town to Harborview Medical Center.
Carrying a bag stuffed with gift-wrapped presents, magazines and snacks, they went to see Roland, who broke two bones in his lower right leg early in the second half of Washington’s 73-64 college basketball victory Tuesday night.
“It was a chance for me to see him and make sure he was all right, and it was a chance for him to get some support from us,” Pondexter said. “He’s doing a great job. He’s a really tough kid. They say he didn’t cry or anything after receiving that injury.”
Pondexter was near Roland when he landed awkwardly beneath the Aggies’ basket and broke his tibia and fibula.
Aggies coach Mark Turgeon knew something was wrong after hearing a loud snap and turning to see Roland on the floor.
“It’s just kind of freak accident,” Turgeon said. “I talked to the doctors about it. He really didn’t jump that high. I don’t think he came down on anybody’s foot. I don’t want to watch [the video].”
Fans turned away at the horrific sight — Roland’s lower leg bent at a 90-degree angle.
Four University of Washington doctors and trainers, including team physician Christopher Wahl, rushed to Roland’s side as he lay on his back with his arms covering his eyes.
After about 10 minutes, Roland was wheeled off the court at Edmundson Pavilion with an inflatable cast on his leg and an IV in his arm, and was taken by ambulance to Harborview.
Within 90 minutes, Roland underwent surgery, with Wahl stabilizing the broken bones with a pin.
A hospital spokeswoman said there were no complications during the procedure and Roland was in satisfactory condition. He could be released as soon as today and no later than Saturday.
“He’ll need to be cleared, but it’s about a 90 to 95 percent chance that he’ll be going home [today],” said Susan Gregg-Hanson of Harborview.
The 6-foor-4 Roland was one of the Big 12’s top defensive guards and the Aggies’ second-leading scorer, at 11.1 points per game.
Barring a medical redshirt being granted, his college career is over, yet he might play basketball again.
A person who treated Roland compared his medical condition to that of Kenyon Martin, who broke his leg his senior year at Cincinnati and went on to play nine years in the NBA.
“He has a long recovery ahead of him,” Aggies spokesman Colin Killian said.
Texas A&M players flew home Wednesday morning, but Turgeon, assistant Dustin Clark and senior Donald Sloan stayed and kept vigil at Roland’s side.
Roland’s aunt was expected to arrive in Seattle on Wednesday night.
Pondexter wasn’t sure what to expect on his visit.
He said Roland was happy to see the Huskies trio. He also appeared tired and groggy from medication.
“I asked him how he was, making sure he was all right,” Pondexter said. “I asked him if he needed anything just in case he was here for the holidays. He was more than welcomed to come spend it with us.
“It’s one of those times where it doesn’t matter where you’re from. It’s a community of basketball and seeing someone that’s similar to you, you just want to help them as much as possible because you care for the guy.”
Turgeon said Roland has received more than 700 e-mails at the hospital.
In case Roland isn’t released today, Romar invited him to spend Christmas at his house with his family and the Huskies on Friday.
“It’s Christmas,” Romar said. “If you can lift his spirits just a little, then you do it.”
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or firstname.lastname@example.org