Posted: Monday October 16, 2006 4:19PM; Updated: Wednesday October 25, 2006 2:30PM
SI.com's Alex Wolff will share stories about his latest doings as owner of the Vermont Frost Heaves every day on SI.com.
FRIDAY, OCT. 20 -- It happened around 5:45, most of the way through our afternoon workout. We revived Melvin Creddle almost immediately. Pressed, he confessed he'd had nothing but a cup of yogurt since 11 that morning, right at the end of our skills and conditioning session -- so we were 99 percent sure that he had passed out because of poor nutrition. Another fine point guard, former NBA star Maurice Cheeks, used to eat nothing but chocolate-chip cookies, and suffered migraines as a result. Besides, Melvin is hard-wired to run 'til his tank empties, if that isn't a mixed metaphor. (Actually, with hybrid vehicles all the rage, gotta craft more sentences like that one. Hey Toyota, want a product-placement opportunity?)
But Mel said something similar had happened to him before, and that raised an alarm that we might have a Hank Gathers or Reggie Lewis case on our hands. So we arranged for him to have a cardio workup at Fletcher Allen, the huge teaching hospital attached to the University of Vermont.
All told Melvin spent nine hours in the hospital, all of them with Coach V by his side. It was no fun, especially for a hoops-dependent guy like Mel. Supportive instant messages like the one from teammate Antonio Burks -- JUST CHECKING UP ON MY ROOM DOG -- only partly lightened the atmosphere. The day's battery of tests ruled out any problems, except for an EKG that left open the possibility of a congenital condition. An MRI a few days later put that to rest too. We all breathed easy, if only because, now cleared to play, Melvin had an outlet for his nervous energy.
A clutch of good-hearted physicians and nurses -- including Dr. Peter Moses, Dr. Peter Spector and phalanxes of support staff -- went out of their way to see that a guy from the toughest part of Newark got the best health care Vermont has to offer. I've long since moved beyond the notion, if I ever really believed it, that the Frost Heaves are some romp or lark, but this was a lesson for all of us.
Lesson for me: We have 15 guys in our care, and anything could happen to any of them at any time.
Lesson for havoc-wreaking point guard: Wreak no havoc on thyself.
Lesson for Coach V: When you spend nine hours alongside a player, make sure YOU eat something, lest we all start to fall like dominoes.
THURSDAY, OCT.: 19 -- Throughout our point guard search, we hoped to land at least one of two types. There are havoc wreakers, guys who have energy and thrive in the up-and-down, which is the essence of the ABA. Then there are tempo-and-flow guys, guards who can sense the tidal shifts in a game and know how to settle their teammates into place.
Our tempo-and-flow point guard and our havoc wreaker are about as yin and yang as two players can get.
Coach V likens our tempo-and-flow guy, Tyrone Barley, to "a shrewd cat." He's the guard who helped guide St. Joseph's to that undefeated regular season two years ago as the Atlantic 10's Sixth Man of the Year. Glue, as he's known, was putting up ordinary numbers in the weight room until Coach V wandered in one day last week.
"Man, where'd THAT come from?" marveled Scott Caulfield, our strength and conditioning coach, when he recorded Tyrone's 27 reps of a 185-pound bench press. (Scott has the results from the last NBA Pre-Draft Camp, and he couldn't find a single point guard with that kind of strength.)
Tyrone shrugged at the obviousness of the answer: "Hey, COACH is here."
Point proven: Tempo-and-flow point guards are into situational ethics. They're acutely aware of the circumstances around them.
Havoc wreakers know only one mode. Ours is Melvin Creddle, who grew up two blocks from Barley on Newark's West Side -- in the same neighborhood as NBA guard Randy Foy.
One of the joys of GM-hood has been to read the Frost Heaves' own filled-out player questionnaires, the kind I've pored through in countless sports information offices over the years -- the ones that ask for "last book read" and "favorite meal." A glance at Melvin's reveals how thoroughly he's devoted to hoops:
Favorite place to go on vacation? GYM.
If you weren't playing basketball, where would you be? ON THE BLOCK.
Favorite sport other than basketball? N/A.
Havoc-wreaker point guards are obsessive and monomaniacal, in case you couldn't tell. Indeed, while mulling over with Coach V the other day candidates to wear our mascot suit, he said, "How about Melvin? He'll do anything you ask him to. He's a puppy dog."
There you have it: Barley, all tempo and flow, shrewd cat; Creddle, havoc wreaker, puppy dog.
Indeed, Melvin will go and go and go. Which is what he did during the first week of practice. Until he collapsed. The aftermath of which will be the subject of my next post.