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.

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 10th, 11th homers in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 10th, 11th homers in 1998

It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.

Sosa is heating up, but even a red-hot Sosa doesn't automatically equal wins for the Cubs.

Slammin' Sammy notched his first multi-homer game in 1998 in a 9-5 loss to Kevin Millwood and the Atlanta Braves. Sosa drove in 4 of the Cubs' 5 runs on a solo shot in the 4th inning and a three-run shot in the 8th. 

Sosa tallied 830 feet of homers in the game, with his first blast going 410 feet and the second shot measured at 420 feet.

The big game bumped Sosa's overall season slash line to .337/.411/.551 (.962 OPS) with 11 homers and 35 RBI.

Fun fact: Mickey Morandini hit second for the Cubs in this game and went 4-for-4, but somehow only scored one run despite hitting just in front of Sosa all game. That's because Morandini was caught stealing to end the 3rd inning, leaving Sosa to lead off the 4th inning with a solo blast.

Steve Kerr told a Michael Jordan Bulls story to give advice to Kevin Durant

Steve Kerr told a Michael Jordan Bulls story to give advice to Kevin Durant

Anyone who lived through the Michael Jordan Bulls remembers those games when he was putting up tons of points, but the Bulls were still struggling overall.

Steve Kerr referenced one of those games to give advice to Kevin Durant during Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals. The TNT broadcast caught the conversation and aired it late in the third quarter.

"When MJ was with the Bulls, we had a playoff game," Kerr began the story. "He kept trying to score and he was scoring, but we weren't getting anything going. Phil Jackson said 'Who's open?' He said, 'John Paxson.'"

Paxson famously hit the game-winning shot in Game 6 of the 1993 NBA Finals to clinch the series. Kerr, who later hit his own championship-winning shot on an assist from Jordan in 1997, was trying to get to get his teammates involved.

"I want to trust your teammates early," Kerr said. "What you're doing is you're getting to the rim and then you're trying to hit him. I want you to trust the first guy and then move. Still attack, still look to score, but trust these guys, OK?"

Watch the video above to see the interaction.

Durant scored 29 points in Game 5 to lead the Warriors, but Houston took a 3-2 series lead with a 98-94 win.