CMU’s Burgon making best of shoulder injury
Chandler Burgon laughs that he can’t plan anything — life gets in the way.
He and his wife, Erica, planned three years ago to move to Salt Lake City, run his business and start planning a family.
Then came a chance to play college basketball and, well, they just couldn’t pass that up, so they moved to Grand Junction instead.
And this year, he planned to be a vital cog in the Colorado Mesa men’s basketball program again, despite a bum right shoulder that he first injured two years ago.
Life got in the way there, too, when his shoulder kept popping out of the socket.
“The first four weeks of school I popped it out of the socket five times,” the 6-foot-8 senior said Monday as he watched the first day of basketball practice from the sideline, his right arm in a sling.
“It got to the point I couldn’t raise it up, it wasn’t functional. It wasn’t that I couldn’t deal with the pain, I just couldn’t function. It got to the point where we had to fix it; it wasn’t an option anymore.
“We were hoping to make it through March, but we came up a little short.”
Burgon had surgery three weeks ago to repair the torn labrum in his right shoulder, which was first injured his sophomore year.
“Dr. Mitch (Copeland) said the tear was three-quarters, typical is 10-2,” he said, referring to the hands of a clock to describe where the labrum was torn. “I went 3-6, so I went about three-quarters. (Copeland) said he felt really good about it. He said it came together well for how torn up it was.”
Burgon could take a redshirt season and come back next year as a senior, but again, there’s that life thing.
“We’ve thought about it and looked at options, but after my wife and I talked and were looking at where we’re at, this is it for me,” he said. “I’m going to make the most of this year and mentor some of the young guys, travel with the team. I hope to make it back for the last couple of games, That’s the goal.”
Recovery from labrum surgery is four to six months, and he’s a little ahead of schedule, hoping to be able to return in five months, in February. He’d like to be active for Senior Night, so he and his brother, Colton, can go out together.
“You hope for the best, and that’s all you can do,” he said.
Without Chandler Burgon, who averaged 5.2 points and 4.7 rebounds per game last season, the Mavericks will play a single-post lineup, with 6-8 Colton Burgon in the middle.
The Mavs have three young post players who will fight for the backup role, redshirt freshmen Garrett Ahlberg (6-7) and Trevor VanTassle (6-8) and freshman Ryan Stephan (6-9).
“We’ve got good young kids. What we’ve got to find a replacement for is that leadership,” CMU coach Jim Heaps said. “That’s what Chandler brought.
A key NCAA rule change this year allowed teams to have full workouts for one hour twice a day before Monday’s first official practice. That allowed coaches to teach how things are done, and it gives new players, especially, a grasp of what’s expected.
It was particularly helpful for the women’s team, which has a new coach this season. Taylor Wagner not only was able to put names to faces the past couple of months, but the Mavericks got to know their coach, who was hired over the summer.
“We tried to make sure everything we did today was something we had introduced, so it wasn’t more teaching, and we could have a higher energy level,” Wagner said.
The women got a couple of players back this year who didn’t play last season, guards Sharaya Selsor and Lindsey Shaw. Selsor took a year off from school, and Shaw missed last year with a stress fracture in her right leg.
Shaw played one game as a freshman in 2009–10, then had to take a medical redshirt season after a stress fracture ended her season. She played sparingly the next season, appearing in 17 games, then had to have a steel rod inserted in her leg because of the stress fracture. That cost her all of last season.
“It’s been a journey, to say the least,” the junior from Bayfield said. “It’s been challenging, for sure, but it helps with all the girls being so focused.
“The main thing is keeping positive and trying to stay focused and learning from watching for two years. I’ve tried to absorb as much as I could, and now it’s a matter of transferring it on the floor.”
She has a scar just below her right knee where the steel rod was inserted — and removed — and two smaller scars where the rod was screwed into her leg.
On each calf are scars from compartment syndrome surgery in high school that prevented her from running cross country and track her senior year.
“I don’t feel like a robot anymore,” she said, laughing. “I can move.”
Both basketball teams have high expectations after reaching the RMAC playoffs last season. The men lost in the championship game, the women in the first round.
“They’re feeling that sense of urgency that it’s almost over for them,” Wagner said, “and they’d like to finish special.”