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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Technology Helps Douglas-Roberts

Technology helps Douglas-Roberts

By Dan Wolken
February 5, 2007

When the University of Memphis went to Orlando last week to play Central Florida, sophomore guard Chris Douglas-Roberts accidentally left the brace he's been wearing around his right ankle in his locker.

With the help of a certain local shipping company, the brace was summoned and arrived in time for Memphis' 87-65 win. Good thing, too. Because for the first time since suffering a high ankle sprain on Jan. 11, the Tigers' leading scorer was back to elevating for highlight-reel layups and making almost everything within 15 feet of the basket.

"I feel stable," Douglas-Roberts said. "I only feel (pain) at the beginning of the game and at the beginning of the second half, but when it loosens up, I'm good."
Though Douglas-Roberts' toughness is obviously a huge factor in his relatively quick recovery from a sometimes problematic injury, technology played a role as well.

The kind of brace Douglas-Roberts wears, made by DonJoy, has only been on the market for a few months. It's called the "Velocity," and Memphis athletic trainer Chris Simmons said the comfort of it combined with the protection it offers has helped Douglas-Roberts appear to be healthy.

"It's not letting the ligaments, and all the bones in my ankle, it's not letting them move around and get worse," Douglas-Roberts said. "It's really helping."

Though a high ankle sprain can sometimes be a lingering injury, Douglas-Roberts was determined not to let it keep him out too long. So after missing three games, he came back against Southern Miss, and though clearly not himself, scored 15 points

Since then, however, he's played some of his best basketball. Against Central Flordia, Douglas-Roberts scored 23 points on 9-of-13 from the field. In Memphis' 88-52 win over SMU on Saturday, he scored 15 on 7-of-10 shooting.

"It's late in the year," Douglas-Roberts said. "It's winning time. We call it money time, and that's how I feel. I feel that my team relies on me to set the pace, and that's all I'm doing."

Douglas-Roberts' numbers the past two games surely would please the folks at DonJoy, who advertise the Velocity on the company's Web site as "an evolution in ankle brace technology" with a "combination of soft goods with a rigid, hinged foot plate and calf cuff (which) provides unsurpassed levels of control, fit and support."

It also has given Douglas-Roberts a sense of security that he won't worsen the injury.

"He feels comfortable playing in (the brace), so we just let him roll with it," Simmons said. "External rotation is what causes a high ankle sprain, so it prevents it from external rotation. Not much, but just enough to protect that ligament so we can let it heal. Over time, hopefully by the NCAA Tournament, he can get out of it."

Douglas-Roberts' strong comeback has been a big relief for the Tigers, who struggled to score at times when he was out of the lineup against East Carolina and Tulsa.

"I knew he was going to eventually come back and do what he does all the time," senior guard Jeremy Hunt said. "Actually he came back faster than we thought, and I'm happy for him. He's given us a big boost, and we look to him to score when we get in trouble sometimes and hopefully everybody's following his lead."

-- Dan Wolken: 529-2365

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