By Sean Fitz-Gerald
In medical terms, a heart attack is defined as a sudden seizure, causing the death of part of the heart muscle.
In athletic terms, a heart attack is defined as a serious injury of a star player, causing dreams of a national championship to die.
Against the York University Yeoman Sunday at the Air Canada Centre, sophomore Ryerson forward Jan-Michael Nation collapsed near centre court in the dying minutes of the second half.
Nation, MVP of last year’s OUA East playoffs, rolled over on his right ankle when he landed awkwardly after jumping to block a York shot.
The arena, which had a capacity of 18,819, fell silent as Nation lay in agony clutching his twisted ankle.
The second-year arts student was down on the floor for nearly five minutes before he walked off the court with the assistance of teammates and trainers.
“Sometimes you can tell right then and there when [the injury’s] serious,” he said, limping out of the dressing room after his team lost the championship game 62-58 to the Yeoman. “My ankle touched the floor and a sharp pain went right to my head.”
Terry Haggerty, Rams head coach for 19 years, said he has learned not to drop to his knees crying every time one of his stars is injured.
“One thing I learned a long time ago in coaching is when someone gets hurt, you’re going to go on with business,” he said. “It’s not like you’re not concerned. The fact is you have to say ‘who’s next?’”
Haggerty said Nation had his ankle taped, a move that should have prevented any serious, long-term injury to the star player.
The loss of Nation for any length of time would send the Reams’ dreams of a national championship spiralling like feces in a flushed toilet, but Haggerty said the six-foot-five guard should be ready for the season opener against Concordia next Friday.
The injury bug has also spread to first-year Rams’ point guard Sam Gilbert, who was hobbling home after Sunday afternoon’s action.
Gilbert, a native of New York City, was struggling to walk on a pair of twisted ankles.
He said the Rams, who played last Friday, Saturday and Sunday, were starting to feel the effects of overexertion.
“We were tired,” he said. “But we’re going to have to deal with that when we get to [the national championships in] Halifax anyway.”