Woodall, Pittsburgh get better together
by Nicole Auerbach, USA TODAY Sports
NEW YORK – You don’t know how serious Tray Woodall’s abdominal injury was last year, Woodall says.
It’s not quite comparable to common sports injuries, like a sprained ankle or even a broken bone. Those are easy to identify and fairly straightforward to rehabilitate.
“I tore a couple of different things,” the Pittsburgh guard told USA TODAY Sports on Tuesday afternoon. “I wasn’t able to walk. It took me a while to actually be able to walk straight. Even when I came back from my injury (last season), I wasn’t able to walk straight but I still played.
“You can’t (rehab). That’s one of those injuries that all you can do is rest. I needed some time to rest. It took a lot longer than I wanted it to take.”
Woodall tore an abdominal muscle and strained his groin in Pittsburgh’s win over Duquesne in a late November game last season. He missed 11 games in the middle of the season, before returning to play in the Panthers’ final 20 games – scoring double-digits in 11 of those contests.
Woodall underwent surgery in the offseason to repair two hernias he said he didn’t know he had. He said he wasn’t able to work out normally (for example, running) until practices began this fall.
“I’m happy to be at full strength,” Woodall, a senior, says now. “It was challenging, going through it, but it was an experience that helped me as a person – to endure things I’ve never endured before. I’m just happy to be back on the court and to be playing basketball like I want to.”
Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon said he sees a difference between the Woodall he saw last season fighting through an abdominal injury and the Woodall who’s playing now. Woodall is averaging nearly 14 points and seven assists a game through Pitt’s first four games.
“I don’t think people grasped (the extent of his injury),” Dixon says. “People were like, ‘Oh, he came back.’ But he had surgery so obviously he was not ‘back.’ “
“He needs to play for us to be good. He needs to be a defensive factor.”