CHAPEL HILL — Dexter Strickland has a long road to travel before he returns from the ACL injury he suffered in North Carolina’s victory at Virginia Tech on Jan. 19. But he’s getting closer, at least.
Strickland on Thursday spent some time with media members and, towards the end of his interview, a member of UNC’s basketball staff came through a door, looking for Strickland. It was time for more rehabilitation work.
There has been no shortage of that lately for Strickland. While his teammates have played pick-up games, he has spent time doing leg exercises in a pool. Doctors recently cleared him to start running again and on Monday he hopes he will be cleared to start jumping and performing more lateral movement.
If all goes well, Strickland could resume playing by late August or September. He’s expected to be ready when the Tar Heels begin practice in August. And when he does return, he expects to play a lot more point guard.
Here’s a sampling of what Strickland spoke about on Thursday, in his own words:
-on the knee:
“It’s feeling better. I just started running last week. The doctor cleared me to start running. So far it’s treating me good.”
-on what else he can do on the knee:
“Not that much yet. I have a meeting with the doctor actually Monday, so hopefully I’ll be cleared to start jumping and start doing some more lateral movement and stuff like that. But I’ve been doing lifting with Jonas, squatting … just different stuff, you know, trying to get that strength back in my knee.”
-on what has been most difficult for him:
“Most difficult is just being injured and watching the guys play pick-up, not being able to work out with them. Not being able to work on my game and get better as far as jump shooting and different dribbling drills and stuff like that. That’s been the most frustrating – not being able to be in the gym as I used to be.”
-on expecting to play point guard:
“I do. I expect to play point guard way more than I did last year. And that’s one of the things I’ve been focusing on a lot, just watching film on different players, trying to get that point guard mindset.”
-on whether he sees himself as a point guard:
“I do. I do a little bit. I still see myself as a combo guard, you know. I think I’m always going to be a slashing guard, so I think there’s more room to grow, and there’s never a time where I stopped learning or stopped developing my game as being a two-guard or a point guard. So I think it’s important for me to focus on whatever I have to do to help my team win.”
-on his expectations for himself when he returns:
“I won’t be 100 percent as soon as I come back, obviously. But there’s other things that I can work on besides my speed or besides running that will help me during the game. I mean, that’s been a big concern or whatever, but I know as soon as I come back, I’m not going to be at full speed 100 percent.”
-on what he learned from not being able to play after the injury:
“I felt like when I was on the bench, I actually learned more. Just seeing what coach was talking about, him yelling at other players, and picturing myself out there and actually seeing what he was trying to explain to me. So I think sitting on the bench and actually watching the games from that point of view helped me a lot.”
So there you have it.