You never want to see a guy get elbowed in the face and miss more than half of a conference game in his final college season, much as Dave Neal was tonight at Comcast Center.
But there’s little doubt the senior forward is as sure a bet to find humor in such a situation, let alone satisfaction.
Let’s start with the reasons for Neal to be pleased. He scored five quick points, returned after said gash was placed above his left eye, then went back to the locker room for what seemed like an eternity.
Fifteen stitches and more than 20 game minutes later, Neal was back.
“I didn’t know it was going to be this much, but the doctor put as much in there to get the cut closed up as much as possible,” Neal said. “It felt good. It was good to go back out there and play with my team because they like having me out there.”
At that point, Neal rubbed his wound, coming away with a globule of blood he deftly wiped on a nearby towel.
It was also the time Neal described the toughest part of his quick recovery – passing a concussion test.
“He asked me to say the months of the year backwards, spell world backwards and he asked me to remember ‘ball,’ ‘cat,’ and ‘Ohio’ and five minutes later he asked me again,” Neal said. “If I didn’t pass those three tests, he probably would have classfied it as a concussion. But I was good enough to go. I memorized everything. They were proud of me how well I recited the months of the year backwards.”
Concussions are serious, serious things, so it has to make you wonder why part of the test for such an injury would be doing something that a lot of people with all their wits about them might struggle to accomplish.
“I don’t know,” Neal said. “Maybe people do it when they’re fine. I did a good job, I recited pretty quickly and they were like ‘Wow, we’re impressed.’”