Trumpy remains confident he'll start again for Wildcats


Trumpy remains confident he'll start again for Wildcats

Northwestern running back Mike Trumpy tuned into Game 1 of the NBA Playoffs like any other Bulls fan expecting a deep playoff run.

But when Derrick Rose, Trumpys favorite athlete to watch, collapsed to the floor in the fourth quarter, it brought back particularly difficult memories for the Wheaton native and his family.

My mom told me that she immediately started crying when she found out, Trumpy said. She felt the connection because the two of us (Trumpy and Rose) tore our ACLs.

Although his injury had occurred seven months earlier, the agonizing memories of the day were, and still are, fresh in Trumpy's mind.

It came during Northwesterns Big Ten opener at Illinois on Oct. 1 when he was the teams starting running back. In the second quarter, he tore the lateral meniscus in his right knee but returned when it was clear that no damage was done to any major ligaments.

But on the teams first opening drive of the third quarter, Trumpy went down again and knew it was something more serious.

On the play, I got tackled and then came up in an excruciating amount of pain, he said. I was like, this cant be my meniscus acting up because thats just not how it works. I kind of hobbled off to the sideline and I just collapsed because I was in so much pain.

After an examination on the sideline, he was informed it might be an ACL injury and he started to break down. He knew a torn ACL would have an especially cruel sense of irony.

Ive had a lot of injuries since being (at Northwestern), he said. All the times I got injured or missed practice, I would always say, At least I didnt tear my ACL. And when that happened, I was like, 'what do I do now?' Its one of those major injuries in the sport and its never good to hear about. I was pretty devastated when it happened.

Trumpys season was over. He got surgery on his knee less than two weeks later, which put him at a new low. Each day was more agonizing than the moment of the actual injury, which he said was the most painful of his career.

The whole offseason working back - building confidence along the way and being patient throughout the whole process was difficult, he said.

The timing for Trumpys ACL tear was terrible considering his new role in the offense. He worked his way up to starter by the end of his redshirt freshman year in 2010 and became the teams leading rusher with 530 yards and almost 4.6 yards per carry. Before his injury as a sophomore, he was leading all Northwestern running backs with 5.2 yards per carry.

Trumpy would seem like a natural to return to the starting lineup as a junior but the seriousness of the injury led to the coaching staff moving junior Venric Mark, a dynamic kick returner and former wide receiver, to running back.

Head coach Pat Fitzgerald named Mark the starter when the depth chart was released Monday. Trumpy will be his backup when the team kicks off the season at Syracuse Saturday. But that does not mean Trumpy won't see the field. Fitzgerald has discussed playing a rotation of running backs and riding whichever one has the hot hand.

In addition to Mark and Trumpy, the Wildcats also have capable backups in sophomore Treyvon Green and senior Tyris Jones, each of whom saw action last season.

Knowing the top guy could be yanked at any time, Fitzgeralds rotation strategy has maintained a competitive atmosphere in the backfield.

No ones complacent, Trumpy said. My redshirt freshman year when I first started playing I entered camp as fifth- or sixth-string, and I wasnt satisfied. I just kept trying to work and work and work and try to earn a role. Eventually I started playing.

While Mark, who played running back during high school in suburban Houston, knows that his job as the teams No. 1 back is far from secure, he too has embraced the approach of running back by committee.

If Coach Fitz says whoevers hot, (its) whoevers hot. I agree with him, he said. If Im in the game and Im not doing very well, then of course, take (me) out.

The sign that Fitzgeralds plan may be the right one for the Wildcats is that despite the highly competitive environment it has created, there is still unity among Trumpy and his backfield mates. It is clear within the relationship between Mark and Trumpy, who are both striving for the same thing.

We always talk. We always try to help each other out. Mark said about Trumpy. Just basically technique, stuff like that. Which hole, A or B. What would be easier so you dont have to do so much work. Blocking technique and different stuff like that.

Trumpys a great guy. Hes funny; hes real goofy, he added. Hes looked upon as one of the leaders in the running back room. Hes proven himself year after year.

At this point, Trumpy will have to prove himself once again. His injury has at least temporarily cost him his job as Northwesterns primary runner. But despite the occasional lingering effects from the most painful moment of his career, he has somehow put a positive spin on it and come a long way from the day he was in tears on the Memorial Stadium sidelines.

Its not something thats fun to go through at all, he said. But Ive grown from it. Im happy it happened because I have a different perspective on football and life. Im stronger mentally and physically from it.

Dwyane Wade's near-miss of a triple-double caused by friendly Felicio fire

Dwyane Wade's near-miss of a triple-double caused by friendly Felicio fire

In a season where the triple-double has become commonplace to the point of stat chasing in the effort to chase history, Dwyane Wade didn't mind snatching his own piece of turf.

In a game where teammate Jimmy Butler reached the feat for the first time this season, it would've been doubly satisfactory for Wade to achieve the fifth triple-double of his career.

One rebound away in the final seconds of the Bulls' 117-99 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, the memo didn't reach Cristiano Felicio, who reached over Wade to grab a rebound, causing it to harmlessly fall out of bounds and ending Wade's chance at history.

After Wade finished with 20 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds in 34 minutes, he was asked if he "hated" Felicio for interrupting his moment.

"No hate. Just a strong dislike, though," said Wade with a wry smile. "You know how long it's been since I had a triple double? It's been a long time."

It's been six years, as his last triple-double came in the 2010-11 season with the Miami Heat, achieving the feat with a 22-point, 12-rebound and 10-assist performance against the then-Charlotte Bobcats on Feb. 4, 2011.

Even more than the statistical feat was Wade's variety, as he grabbed seven rebounds in the decisive third-quarter run that broke the game open, hitting Butler and Bobby Portis for long touchdown passes that would've had Jay Cutler or whichever quarterback the Cleveland Browns are banking on next fall, blushing.

Perhaps even more impressive was the fact it was on the second night of a back-to-back with the Bulls winning in overtime against the Phoenix Suns—a game where Wade turned it up late then threw it down over Alex Len in overtime.

"I think we just found our groove," Wade said. "We've had some injuries that have gone on but we're playing good basketball."

More pointedly, so is Wade, aided by him often finding Felicio for easy dunks on the pick and roll as they play second and fourth quarters together. 

Felicio was clearly bothered by his gaffe, which was made worse by the take-no-prisoners approach from Wade and Butler. When a member of foreign media approached him about an interview, Felicio said "you're not asking me about that last rebound, are you?"

Later in the evening, Felicio went to Twitter, posting "I did not know!!" in reference to Wade's night.

"I told him I didn't not even gonna act like I ain't mad at him. I'm very mad at him," said Wade with a laugh. "But he's all good. He said he didn't see me down there. So he took a shot at my height. It's cool. Jimmy had one. It would've been nice to have two triple doubles."

"I'm sure a stat would've came out that would've said, ‘Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler are the first duo to get a triple-double on a back-to-back since Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen', since they got every record around here."

He was close, although Jordan and Pippen didn't achieve their feat on a back-to-back but a random night in the 1988-89 season. Jordan scored 41 with 11 assists and 10 rebounds and Pippen had 15 with 12 assists and 10 rebounds in a 126-121 overtime win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

"We laugh about that often, but it's all good," Wade said. "I gotta work harder till I get another one one day."

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