McCullough, Syracuse reflect on season-ending torn ACL, look to others to excel in forward’s absence

first_imgBefore Syracuse’s 70-57 win against Florida State on Sunday night, Chris McCullough played as the Houston Rockets in the NBA 2K basketball video game against walk-on Doyin Akintobi-Adeyeye. McCullough won by 30.Eight minutes and nine seconds into SU’s game, it was Akintobi-Adeyeye with more power than McCullough, stepping under the freshman forward’s left arm to shoulder his weight. McCullough had just torn his right ACL after jumping to catch a Michael Gbinije outlet pass, but the severity of the injury was unknown at the time.“Just to keep my hopes up and keep me happy he made me laugh, he said ‘Remember that 30-piece,’” McCullough said of Akintobi-Adeyeye at Monday’s practice in the Carrier Dome.His Orange teammates were getting ready for their 8 p.m. Tuesday tipoff against Wake Forest – the first of 15 more regular-season matchups SU will play without the 6-foot-10 freshman forward. McCullough said he’s staying positive and will still be himself, dancing and joking in the locker room. He and his teammates said the rest of the team will have to step up in his absence.McCullough will not be able to gain a medical redshirt as he would’ve had to play in 30 percent or fewer of his team’s regular-season games. He’s played in 16 contests — 51.6 percent of the 31 SU will play this season.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAfter limping into the locker room during the first half, McCullough said he walked around for five minutes, then iced the knee. He knew he was done for the game and had a serious injury, but couldn’t walk when he got up after he finished icing his knee.He watched the rest of the game by himself in the locker room, where he took a call from his mother but told her there was a game going on and that he’d call her back.“My mom, she talk for too long,” McCullough said. “I told her I’d call her back after the game or something.”After the game he went to his South Campus apartment where teammates visited him. He took some medicine, went to bed and put a pillow under his leg, which he said he couldn’t keep straight.On Monday morning he got an MRI, and two hours later, team trainer Brad Pike told him he had torn his ACL. Head coach Jim Boeheim said it’s a 6-8 month process of getting McCullough back for next season.“It’s a terrible injury and it’s just unfortunate,” Boeheim said before Monday’s practice. “It’s a freak accident. You just have to get it taken care of and do his rehab and come back. We’ve had two guys have terrible ACLs, Andy Rautins and Eric Devendorf and they’re both still playing today, stronger than ever.”Earlier in the day on the Atlantic Coast Conference coaches’ teleconference Boeheim said that sophomore forward B.J. Johnson could play in either forward spot off the bench, Chinonso Obokoh would be SU’s backup center and Tyler Roberson would start in McCullough’s place.Roberson is averaging 23.2 minutes per game compared to McCullough’s 28.1, but has recently rotated in for, or alongside McCullough at the power forward spot.He said he’s learned his role at the No. 4 spot better as the season has progressed, increasingly moving out of the small forward position he played more earlier in the season.“I think I’m ready for it,” Roberson said of increased minutes. “It’s not something that I think would be asked of me that’s too much. I think I can do it.”McCullough said his surgery has not been scheduled yet as he waits for the swelling in his knee to go down. He said the whole team, not any individuals in particular, will have to step up without him and insisted that he’d still be himself around the team even though his pain is currently a “10 out of 10.”“I’m still going to be funny in the locker room, still going to be me, just going to be looking around now, can’t get my boogie on no more,” McCullough said, wiggling his hips. “Can’t do my tootsie roll.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on January 12, 2015 at 5:33 pm Contact Jacob: jmklinge@syr.edu | @Jacob_Klinger_last_img

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