I interviewed Wisconsin’s Josh Gasser for an article for NBC. I always like to share the raw Q&A with you guys after the fact.
When you got injured before last season, did you go through the five stages of grief?
Yeah, a little bit. It took a few days to sink in. It happened so quick. Everything was going so well, then a second changes everything. It was a mixture of feelings, being pissed off or mad or sad, depressed, whatever. It was tough to deal with, but after a couple of weeks it all sunk in and I decided to rise to the challenge.
When did you start working to rehab?
I had surgery a week after it happened, so I couldn’t really do anything except try to get rid of the swelling.
What’s the worst exercise in rehabbing that type of injury?
A couple of days after the surgery. I stayed a couple of nights with my parents, then I went to start some light rehab a couple of days after.
What was the worst exercise?
At first, the worst thing is trying to get your flexion back. Your knee is so stiff you can’t bend it at all. Then as it goes on, there are various exercises that you dislike the most. Conditioning, and trying to get my legs under me because it’s been so long since you’ve run and cut. It changes month by month.
When did you start feeling like your strength was returning?
How did you combat boredom?
I just try to stay involved. Watching games, going out with my teammates - that’s the kind of stuff I would be doing anyway. I try to be as involved as I can in practices and being with the guys off the court so I can feel comfortable that way.
Are there other players, coaches, family members who helped with the mental aspect of rehabbing an injury?
Yeah, definitely, there were a lot of people who helped me. I got calls and texts all the time from people. Coaches, former players, friends, family you name it. It’s kind of crazy how many people have gone through this injury. You don’t realize until it happens to you. People would tell me ‘oh yeah, I went through that back in the day, too.” They can help you along the way and keep you mentally stable.
Did you feel like you could have come back early?
No, it was definitely no go. There was really no chance. The trainers and doctors told me that. From the get-go we were taking our time with it. We knew it would take the full year - a full twelve months - before I could get back into it. Not trying to rush anything. So hopefully I’ll be ready to go next year.
What have you been doing this summer specifically to get ready for the new season?
Just continuing to do my rehab right now. Gradually building up to be able to play five-on-five. I work out in the morning, then in the afternoon do the rehab stuff with the trainers. I’m building up quad strength, regaining balance and really re-learning how to do everything. Learning how to run, jump, all that stuff. Learning how to tolerate it with the pain. Week by week and day by day. Hopefully pretty soon I’ll be able to go full contact.
Since you’re starting over in a sense, are they taking this opportunity to teach you new ways to do any of those old skills?
I’m re-learning all kinds of things. Walking mechanics, jumping mechanics, learning a lot of stuff. They’re kind of basing it on what feels comfortable to me.
I’ve been to Wisconsin in the summer time, and I felt like every time I turned my head, someone put another bratwurst on my plate. How do you avoid gaining weight over the summer?
(Laughs) I’m from here, so I eat them pretty often. But I’m working out two or three times a day, so I can eat pretty much whatever I need to eat. I’m trying to gain some weight back, so it’s not really a problem for me. I’m burning a lot of calories, so whatever I put back in me is fine.
You’re on campus right now. Do you get time off?
After the spring semester, we get three or four weeks off before we start summer workouts. But I’ve spent summer here, rehabbing and working with the trainers here. So I have only spent a couple weekends here or there at home. It’s been great, I can’t complain.
Did they give you some things you can do even when you’re at home to work out?
My longest time at home was a six-day stretch. The trainers gave me a workout plan, but at the same time they wanted me to take some time off; go home, rest, hang out with my family and rejuvenate. A really important thing in this whole process is learning to rest and give myself some time to heal. So it’s a little bit of both.
Any class load?
I’m taking an online business course right now, so I don’t have to go to class, but it’s still a lot of work every day to keep up the pace.
You still have some downtime. Did you get hooked on any shows?
I did, actually. I’m on the second season of Friday Night Lights. I usually don’t get into series, I just like to watch basketball games and football games, but after the NBA Finals were over, I started that series and now I’m hooked on it.