New Mexico guard Senque Carey was expected to be a cornerstone for the Lobos. Now coaches and teammates are just hoping he’ll walk again.
Carey drew a charge from Northwestern State’s Byron Allen with 7:41 left in the first half of the Lobos win on Nov. 25, knocking Carey to the floor. He lay flat on his back, virtually motionless for 10 minutes while physicians treated the senior.
He was placed in a neck brace and taken out of The Pit, New Mexico’s arena, on a stretcher. While Carey had no motion from his neck down when he arrived at New Mexico University Hospital, he regained use of his arms and hands the next day.
“It was a freak deal,” said New Mexico assistant coach Scott Didrickson. “It wasn’t a hard collision. We’re just hoping right now that he’ll be OK.”
While it is unclear whether he will regain motion in his legs, Carey remained hopeful that he would play basketball again. He was discharged from the hospital Monday, hospital spokeswoman Lynn Melton said.
“I feel it’s only a matter of time before I’m back to myself,” Carey told the Associated Press on Friday, ”but it’s going to take time. I’ve been playing basketball my whole life. But right now, the most important part is to be able to live a normal life.”
Carey’s pre-existing narrowing of the spine contributed to the injury. He had told coaches that he suffered a similar injury while playing for St. Francis High School in Mountain View, Calif., but later regained full movement.
That allowed Carey, 23, to continue his basketball career at the University of Washington following high school, where New Mexico assistant coach Byron Boudreaux recruited him.
Boudreaux, now an assistant at Arkansas, developed a relationship with Carey that went beyond the traditional player-coach friendship.
“I consider him a son, he’s part of my family,” Boudreaux said. “I told him when I recruited him that my commitment wasn’t for four years, it would be there until the day I died. You don’t make those statements to just anyone.”
Carey played two years at Washington, and was named to the Pac-10 all-freshman team in 1998-99. Following the 1999-2000 season, Carey transferred to New Mexico, where he averaged six points and 4.1 rebounds last year.
“Part of the transfer was him wanting to be closer to home,” Didrickson said.
Since Carey’s injury, the 6-foot-4 guard has received numerous phone calls, e-mails and visits from well-wishers.
“To give you an idea of how popular he is, the football team got a bowl bid on Saturday,” said Rudy Davalos, New Mexico’s athletics director. “The captains gave him the game ball and had all the players autograph it.”
The injury has not stopped Carey from being part of the team. On Saturday, Carey and his girlfriend, Nadia Steed, visited practice before the Lobos headed off to face rival New Mexico State. It also hasn’t stopped him from one of his favorite pastimes.
Said Didrickson: “He’s still playing PlayStation and talking trash.”
After the worst year in North Carolina’s storied history, the Tar Heels returned to the Top 25, debuting at No. 12 in the latest Associated Press poll. UNC (5-1) needs just three more wins to match last season’s total.
An outstanding freshman class that includes sharpshooter Rashad McCants has aided UNC’s return to the elite, including a stunning 67-56 win over then-No. 2 Kansas, on Nov. 27.
“They’re a confident group, a very poised group,” UNC head coach Matt Doherty told the AP. “We made some adjustments, and they believed. I’m not ready to anoint this team a national champion. We’re not giving out any rings yet.”
Pepperdine center Will Kimble’s career is over.
The junior fainted during a practice and underwent a series of tests that showed an excessive thickness of the heart muscle, a condition known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. It’s so dangerous that Kimble will not be able to play again.
Kimble averaged 5.4 points and 3.7 rebounds last year as Pepperdine compiled a 22-9 record and earned an NCAA Tournament berth.
“Life is very fragile,” Pepperdine coach Paul Westphal told the AP. “Thankfully, Will got the benefit of a warning sign.”
Up and coming
Want a sleeper for this year’s NCAA Tournament? Look no further than the College of Charleston.
A.J. Harris nailed a tiebreaking shot — his only bucket of the game — to give the Cougars the Great Alaska Shootout title with a 71-69 victory over Villanova on Saturday. The Cougars used a full-court press to hold the Wildcats to 33 percent from the field in the first half.
Said Villanova head coach Jay Wright after the game: ”It took us out of our aggressiveness offensively. We couldn’t get the ball inside and settled for jump shots too much.”
Say that again
“Whenever you sit around all summer and think about you’re 11 minutes away from a national championship and that’s all you think about, of course, it’s going to mean something extra.”
— Indiana guard Tom Coverdale after the Hoosiers, who lost to Maryland in last year’s NCAA championship game, exacted revenge on Maryland with an 80-74, overtime win Tuesday.
This and that
For the first time since 1989, ESPN will televise a regular season prep game, thanks to high school standout LeBron James. ESPN2 picked up the rights to a Dec. 12 matchup between James’ St. Vincent-St. Mary High (Ohio) and Oak Hill Academy (Va.). … Dayton’s 75-69 upset of then-No. 21 Cincinnati on Saturday snapped the Flyers 11-game losing streak against the Bearcats and knocked them out of the poll. … UCLA fell to 0-2 for the first time since 1961, losing to then-No. 6 Duke, 84-73, Sunday night. The Bruins were upset by San Diego, 86-81, on Nov. 26.
This story originally ran on December 5, 2002 in The Daily Orange.