Virginia sophomore guard Joe Harris spent last Thursday night nauseous and lying on the bathroom floor of his campus apartment. Any sort of movement made him feel like he had to vomit.
At the time, Harris said, he didn’t know he’d suffered the first concussion of his life. He didn’t even remember the collision that had caused it. Nearly a week removed from that night, Harris sat in Virginia’s locker room Wednesday at Philips Arena in Atlanta and said he feels fine now. He’ll play Friday in the Cavaliers’ ACC tournament quarterfinal matchup against either North Carolina State or Boston College.
But the past few days were not enjoyable for the Cavaliers’ second-leading scorer, to say the least.
When Harris and Florida State forward Bernard James fell to the floor with just less than five minutes remaining in the Seminoles’ 63-60 win in Charlottesville, the action that followed stuck in the minds of most observers much more so than the collision that preceded it.
As both players tried to snatch the ball out of the air, James’s elbow struck the side of Harris’s head. Both players tumbled to the court. James then kicked at Harris’s stomach as he moved to get up, and that’s what drew the audible ire of the fans in attendance. James was ejected from the game for that kick. Harris kept playing. He said Wednesday he hadn’t remembered the collision until later being informed about it by teammates and team staff.
But after the game was over, Harris said, he started feeling “uncomfortably dizzy.” After Harris began vomiting, fifth-year senior guard Sammy Zeglinski – Harris’s roommate – called Ethan Saliba, the team’s athletic trainer. Saliba came to the apartment and then escorted Harris to the university hospital, where Harris said he remained for a series of tests, including a CAT scan, until around 5 a.m.
Doctors determined Harris had suffered a mild concussion, and the player was held out of practice Friday and Saturday.
“I just didn’t feel right,” Harris said. “I was real dizzy and uncomfortable and had a really bad headache.”
Harris was cleared to play in Virginia’s 75-72 overtime win Sunday at Maryland, and he finished with seven points, six rebounds and two assists in 37 minutes. He shot 2 for 7 from the field and made the only three-pointer he attempted.
“Obviously, I would tell you I was 100 percent because I’m not trying to get anybody into any trouble,” Harris said. “But I was definitely a lot more sensitive to light and sound and that sort of stuff. Especially at Maryland, it was getting really loud in there. That bothered me a little bit, but other than that, I felt good.”
After the game Sunday, Harris said, the dizziness and headaches returned. The team did not practice Monday, and Harris was held out of practice Tuesday.
Harris participated in practice Wednesday morning in Charlottesville prior to the team’s departure for Atlanta. He also took part in the team’s shoot-around Wednesday evening at Philips Arena.
He’s been playing since Feb. 11 with a broken left (non-shooting) hand, and he had to wear a hard cast during the shoot-around since Saliba was in Charlotte with freshman guard Malcolm Brogdon, who underwent corrective surgery Wednesday on his broken left foot. Harris typically plays with a softer, thinner, padded wrap on his left hand during practices and games.
“I feel much better,” Harris said. “I wouldn’t be at shoot-around unless I was 100 percent okay.”
Regarding Brogdon’s surgery, Virginia Coach Tony Bennett said he received a text message earlier Wednesday informing him that the player’s surgery went well. Brogdon will stay overnight in the hospital tonight and then be driven to Atlanta on Thursday morning.
Bennett said the timetable on Brogdon’s recovery remains unclear. Whereas the ankle fracture that sidelined senior center Assane Sene in mid-January was fairly typical, Bennett said the injury Brogdon suffered to his left foot was less common.
“I’ll find out more,” Bennett said. “We’ll see how long it is as far as what the doc says based on what he did when he was in there and all that.”