Basketball players

Auburn basketball players overcame simultaneous injuries

ROCKFORD – Rob Chaney blew his left knee the summer before his second season.

A year later, the Auburn basketball player tore his left ACL again, ending his junior season after 2.5 games.

“My heart broke for him,” Auburn coach Bryan Ott said. “The kid lives for basketball and let’s go. It was tragic for me.

“He’s one of the few guys I ever had in college in freshman, playing sixth man. We had high hopes for him in second year. It’s dotted. He’s been keeping his spirits up so well, getting rehab and ready to go through his first year. COVID hits. We don’t start on time. We finally have a season, it breaks out in two games and then it’s gone. He has to start all over again.

“It left me very worried. Same knee. Do it again. What is the probability that he will be explosive on his return?

Following: Why Auburn and Boylan are the 2 best boys basketball teams in the NIC-10

Brothers with blood and wounds

And it wasn’t just the same knee. It was the same family. His little brother tore his ACL two days earlier in a freshman game last spring. The two brothers underwent knee surgery the same day.

It sort of became a blessing. The two are back on the pitch now, helping Auburn (9-2, 6-0) climb to the top of NIC-10. The two brothers, still close, have become even closer as they go through the most difficult period of their basketball life together.

“When he got hurt I felt bad for him because he wasn’t that strong mentally,” Rob Chaney said of his little brother. “Once I got hurt it was serious, but it was good in a way because we went into rehab together and there was support for him along the way.

“Growing up, my brother and I were always close, but we always argued, just over little things. As we get older, we get closer and closer. But this drug rehab has made us very close. We click well with each other, in everything we do.

Auburn sophomore Rakim Chaney shoots in a JV game at Boylan on December 17, 2021. He scored a key 3-point point later in limited action in the varsity game later that night while ‘Auburn rallied to win 47-43.

Sibling rivalry, even in recovery

Rakim, a 5-foot-11, 130-pound second-year reserve who hit a key 3-point pointer in Auburn’s comeback win 47-43 on Boylan previously undefeated last week, always tried to keep up with Rob.

“He’s my big brother,” Rakim said. “Two years older than me. Everything is going to be faster and faster for him than for me. It’s 10 times harder for me to catch up with him. But we work hard because we both want to improve at what we do.

This was particularly helpful during rehabilitation. Both were operated on the same day, two weeks after their injuries. They returned from the hospital the same day. And both had their first physiotherapy session the next day, training on a stationary reclining bike.

“My brother and I are really competitive,” said Rob. “Going through rehab was a bit like a competition. Whenever we went too fast or too slow, we looked at each other, we competed. “

Day after day, the two did their rehab exercises together in the basement and froze their knees at other times, 20 minute walk and 20 minute break, while airing Rakim’s favorite show “Chicago PD” on Neflix.

“We knew it would be a long trip because my brother had already torn his ACL in second year. We knew what to expect, ”Rakim said. “But for me it was new. It was frustrating to learn how to go eight months without being in the field.

“And I thought too much about things at first. Since he did it twice, I guessed, thinking that maybe I could hurt myself again. But on our journey, as long as I had it by my side, I knew we would go through it together, like brothers.

Win together

Rakim Chaney, left, and Rob Chaney pose in the hallway after Auburn's 47-43 victory at Boylan on Friday, December 17, 2021. The two brothers underwent ACL surgery the same day last spring.

Auburn’s Rakim Chaney, left, and Rob Chaney pose in the hallway following Auburn’s 47-43 victory at Boylan on Friday, December 17, 2021. The two brothers underwent ACL surgery the same day last spring.

Now they are winning together, like brothers.

Auburn has won eight games in a row. Rob is one of four double-digit average players with 10.6 points per game. The 6-1 senior goalie also leads the team in assists (3.0), is second in rebounds (4.9), tied for first with 6-6 center Mike Jones in blocked shots ( 0.9) and one of the seven Knights with an average between 1.5 and 2.0 steals.

“It means everything to find him,” said Ott, calling him a rare leader.

“This intangible alone is a blessing to be reclaimed,” Ott added.

Chaney also won in the home stretch last week in a 59-50 victory over defending champion NIC-10 East.

“He’s just a stable ball handler,” said Eastern coach Roy Sackmaster. “He makes good decisions. He makes big plays for them when they need it most.

He was also there when his brother needed him the most. They were both there. Together.

“The first two months were tough,” said Rakim, “but when things started to get more difficult in physiotherapy, the process seemed to go faster. We were able to go faster and things got faster for us. But in the end we were so eager to come back, it seemed like it had taken forever, the past two weeks.

And now they’re both back on the pitch. Together.

And better than ever.

“It was hard to watch,” said Rob, “but along the way I also learned things that I use now. There are things that you see from the sideline that you can do. recover once you start playing again.

“And I have full confidence in that left leg because of all the hard work I’ve put in.”

Matt Trowbridge: [email protected]; @matttrowbridge

This article originally appeared on Rockford Register Star: Auburn guards Rob and Rakim Chaney overcame ACL injuries together