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Nov. 30, 2012

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CHARLOTTESVILLE — At media day for the UVa men’s basketball team last month, sophomore Malcolm Brogdon spoke confidently about his recovery from major surgery on his left foot.

He had not been cleared to play, Brogdon told reporters Oct. 10 at John Paul Jones Arena, “but I’ll be out there soon.”

Since then, however, his rehabilitation has proceeded slower than Brogdon hoped, and his plans have changed. UVa announced Wednesday that the 6-5 guard will redshirt this season. Brogdon would then have three seasons of eligibility remaining, starting in 2013-14.

“I knew in the back of my mind there was always a chance” a redshirt year would be necessary, Brogdon said Thursday at JPJ, “but I thought I really could be back [this season]. I’m just being more realistic than anything. I’m trying to make sure I fully recover and heal [instead of rushing] to get back on the court as soon as I can.”

Brogdon, who can play both guard spots, as well as small forward, was the Cavaliers’ sixth man for most of last season. He averaged 6.7 points and 2.8 rebounds and established himself as one of the ACC’s top freshmen. Brogdon periodically experienced soreness in his left foot, but that didn’t stop him until late in the season, when the pain increased dramatically.

His final 2011-12 appearance came Feb. 25, when Brodgon scored four points against North Carolina. Ten days later, Bennett announced in a news release that Brogdon had a broken bone in his left foot that would require season-ending surgery.

Absent from the announcement was any timetable for Brogdon’s return. The release simply stated: “His rehabilitation period is uncertain.”

In Charlotte, N.C., Dr. Robert Anderson operated on Brogdon on March 7. The surgery was deemed a success, but UVa’s coaching staff knew it would take many months for Brogdon to recover. Exactly how long, though, no one knew for sure.

Since the operation, “we’ve been able to get more and more information on the nature of the injury and the surgery and everything else,” said Mike Curtis, UVa’s strength-and-conditioning coach for basketball.

“It’s always difficult to put a timetable on something when there are so many variables that go into anyone’s rehab, in terms of how they’re recovering from the stresses that we’re imposing on them, including the other parts of daily life as a student.

“That all impacts rehabilitation. But we knew we were in for a pretty elaborate rehabilitation, and whenever you’re faced with that, it’s very difficult to put timetables on that. It’s just about how he adapts to every stress we impose on him from a rehab standpoint. And then we move on, and it adapts again, and we move on, and sometimes you’ll hit a hiccup at some point in the road, and you’ll have to take two steps back to take four forward.”

Brogdon, a graduate of Greater Atlanta Christian School, said his foot feels good and is “getting better every day.”

His workload is steadily increasing. Brogdon has been cleared to practice the Mikan Drill — the first real jumping he’s done since his operation — and trains almost every day with Curtis. They had an especially productive session Wednesday in Madison, Wis., where Virginia won that night in an ACC/Big Ten Challenge game at the Kohl Center.

“He’s come a long way since we started about eight weeks ago,” Curtis said. “If you were to walk in certain days and see a snapshot of the things he’s doing, you’d be like, `Oh, wow, he’s really functional.’ But at the same time, he’s not at a place where he can endure that on a day-in, day-out basis. It’s all about, OK, we’re going to impose this on you today, let’s see how you react. And we haven’t gotten to a point yet where we can do that on a daily basis, which would allow him to compete and endure the volume and intensity of practice and games on a consistent basis. We’re just not there yet.”

Brogdon said he wasn’t worried that he was falling behind in his rehab, “but I was putting pressure on myself to get back, and I realized it was unnecessary. I just needed to respect the process.”

His family supports his decision to redshirt, said Brogdon, who plans to use his fifth year at UVa to pursue graduate studies.

“I went to Coach Bennett and said I think this might be best for me at this point, seeing how I’m progressing,” Brogdon said. “I am progressing really well, but being realistic, I don’t want to get people’s hopes up that I’m going to be back. And if I want to, I could come off my redshirt [this season].”

Curtis said Brogdon’s decision should allow him to rehab in a better frame of mind.

“I think there was a lot of stress that he was putting on himself,” Curtis said. “Because he wants to play, and he knows that this team, ideally, would want him on the court to help us through these times with a bunch of young guys. But at the same time, he knew that at this point he wasn’t exactly where he wanted to be to really, really help these guys.”

Brogdon said he hopes to start practicing with the team before the calendar flips to 2013. He’s not likely to be at full speed by then, Brogdon said, “but I’ll be back in practice, I think, by the end of the December.”

Curtis, who works closely with head athletic trainer Ethan Saliba, said the staff hopes to get Brogdon to “a point this year where he can go day in and day out and possibly practice with the team. That’s our goal, but at the same time we want to make sure we don’t irritate anything or exacerbate any problems.”

With Brogdon redshirting and Anthony Gill sitting out this season under NCAA transfer rules, Bennett has only 10 scholarship players available: freshmen Justin Anderson, Taylor Barnette, Teven Jones, Evan Nolte and Mike Tobey, sophomores Darion Atkins and Paul Jesperson, juniors Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell, and senior Jontel Evans.

Barring attrition, UVa will have a full complement of 13 scholarship players in 2013-14: two freshmen (Devon Hall and London Perrantes), seven sophomores (Brogdon, Gill, Jones, Tobey, Anderson, Nolte and Barnette), two juniors (Jesperson and Atkins), and two seniors (Harris and Mitchell).

Virginia (5-2) hosts Green Bay (3-3) at 4 p.m. Saturday. The Cavaliers have won four in a row since a Nov. 13 loss to Delaware in the NIT Season Tip-Off tournament.

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