Scott understands Demetrius Jackson hamstring injury

Tom Noie
South Bend Tribune

Half a world away and unable to sleep after a game with his professional basketball team in Belgium, former Notre Dame swingman Carleton Scott could relate to the news that was settling over the Irish program.

When junior captain Demetrius Jackson departed barely two minutes into Saturday’s game against Boston College with a right hamstring injury, Scott knew well what the point guard was dealing with. Jackson later walked back to the Irish bench with an ice bag strapped to the back of his leg. His status for Thursday at Syracuse is questionable at best.

At worst, it might be a few games before Jackson’s back doing what he does.

Coincidentally, it was against Syracuse in the Carrier Dome on New Year’s Day during that magical 2010-11 season when Scott crumpled to the court, much like Jackson did, with an injury to his left hamstring. Scott limped back to the locker room, and later left the building on crutches.

He knew even before he fell to the floor late in the second half of a 70-58 loss that something was wrong.

“I felt it ASAP,” Scott said in a Facebook message exchange with the Tribune late Saturday, which was early Sunday morning in Antwerp, Belgium. “Felt like a bad cramp.”

Originally diagnosed as a strained left hamstring, it was later determined to be more serious. Scott said it was a partial tear about five inches from the top of the hamstring to the bottom. Best case scenario, Mike Brey figured, was that Scott would return in early February. That meant he would miss seven games.

Scott was back after sitting out four (the Irish went 2-2) over 18 days. He had returned to practice days before the Jan. 19 home game against Cincinnati, then scored six points off the bench.

“Only thing you can really do is rest and test it out who you feel it’s ready,” Scott said.

Even when it might feel ready, it will take Jackson a few more games back to settle into a comfort zone and be reassured that all will remain well when he tries to cut and move and explode on the drives down the lane that have become a staple of his all-around game.

“First few games, I took it easy to get the confidence up, then I was good,” Scott said. “I had been through a lot worse when it comes to injuries, so mentally, I knew how to approach it.”

Jackson has never missed a game in his collegiate career because of injury. Saturday marked only the second time that he failed to play at least 10 minutes in his career, and the third when he didn’t score.

Notre Dame (14-5; 5-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) did just fine without Jackson on Saturday in registering a 27-point victory. But the Irish are about to enter a potential prove-it point in their schedule. Starting Thursday in Central New York, six of Notre Dame’s next nine league games are on the road. That includes a trip next week to No. 15 Miami (Fla.). Two of those next three home games are against nationally-ranked teams in No. 2 North Carolina (Feb. 6) and No. 17 Louisville (Feb. 13).

The next three weeks will be a good indication of how good this Irish team is, and where it might headed for postseason.

Jackson was injured with just under 18 minutes remaining in Saturday’s first half. Pushing the ball down the floor in transition, Jackson worked his speed dribble across halfcourt before going behind his back while closing in on Eagle guard Jerome Robinson, who was defending at the 3-point line.

As Jackson closed in on Robinson and went behind his back, he lost control of the ball, which ricocheted to his right. In pursuit, Jackson dived and tapped it to teammate V.J. Beachem, who drove the baseline to the basket. After the lunge and tap, Jackson twisted his body and fell on his backside.

After Beachem was fouled at the basket, Robinson went over and helped Jackson up. Jackson took three small steps before reaching back to grab his hamstring. He then stood still near the foul line before trainer Skip Meyer and sophomore power forward Martinas Geben helped him to the locker room.

“I bet everyone in the (arena’s) heart stopped for a second when they saw that,” said freshman guard Rex Pflueger, who stepped into Jackson’s vacated spot in the rotation and delivered 11 points in 32 minutes, both career highs.

"We were worried at first; hopefully it wasn't bad and it's not," said senior power forward Zach Auguste.

Word from a Notre Dame spokesman arrived just before halftime that Jackson had a pulled right hamstring and would not return. Sunday was the mandatory NCAA off day for the Irish, who have three days of practice before a stretch of three games in seven days.

The team leader in scoring and assists and second in minutes played, Jackson closed the week ranked among the league’s Top 10 in five statistical categories. He was 10th in scoring (16.6), 10th in field goal percentage (50.4), tied for second in assists (5.0), five in assist/turnover (2.64) and fifth in minutes (34.4).

“He’s such a great player and one of my favorite guys to watch in the league, the way he affects his teammates,” said Boston College coach Jim Christian. “I hope Jackson is healthy.”

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