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Marshal Mo Hare, SASS #45984

Sportsmanship

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From NT Times

 

The two basketball buddies from Indiana, Josh Speidel and Everett Duncan, envisioned this happening hundreds of times in their careers at the University of Vermont: Duncan finding Speidel with a bounce pass, and Speidel finishing with a layup.

Instead it happened only once, on Tuesday, when the Catamounts celebrated their seniors during the last game of the regular season. That the play happened at all was a testament to Speidel’s resilience, and to the work of many others at the campus that sits about 45 miles south of the Canadian border.

Shortly after committing to Vermont as a prized recruit, Speidel, now a redshirt senior, suffered a severe brain injury in a February 2015 car accident. Speidel, who had been known for his scoring and rebounding, was still in a coma in an Indianapolis hospital when Vermont Coach John Becker visited him and promised his parents, David and Lisa, that the university would honor his scholarship.
Though Speidel ultimately recovered enough to enroll and function as a student — he is on track to graduate in May — he could not return to competition. That is, until Tuesday night, when Becker and Speidel’s teammates followed through with a plan to finally get him in a game and into the box score.
Becker and Albany Coach Will Brown agreed on a special accommodation. The Catamounts would let Albany win the opening tip, go down and score. Then Vermont would run a play to get Speidel an uncontested layup. At that point, Speidel would come out of the game, and normal play would commence. Vermont walked through the play three times at the morning shootaround to assure no slip-ups.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been that nervous for a layup, but it’s my first layup in five years,” Speidel said in a telephone interview after the game. “My dad joked with me. He said, ‘You could always miss it, grab a rebound and add to your stats a little.’ I thought about that. But then I figured I might as well end my college career shooting 100 percent.”

Once Albany scored, the other Catamount starters — Ben Shungu, Daniel Giddens and Anthony Lamb — passed the ball around before tossing it inside to Duncan, who found Speidel for a right-handed layup. Speidel suggested getting all the players involved as a symbol of the teamwork that aided his recovery. And Becker wanted Duncan, one of Speidel’s roommates and his closest friend on the team, to deliver the assist.

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