Dave Neal's Flesh Wound
The last time I watched the Maryland men's basketball team play live at the Comcast Center, Virginia Tech's Dorenzo Hudson stole the show by vomiting right on the court in the middle of play. As fans chanted "MVP" at the custodians and students deployed "Fear the Mop" signs, I figured here was the golden age of Maryland basketball bodily fluid reportage, never to be repeated.
Well, maybe. But Dave Neal sure gave Hudson a run for his DNA last night. Eleven months after WateryGate, I showed up at Comcast Center again, for another cross-state meeting, this time with Virginia. And sure enough, an eyebrow was lacerated, basketball blood was gushing and custodians with mops were once again in the middle of it all.
What's next? A Clemson sneezing fit? A Florida State cold sweat epidemic? Miami's point guard dissolving into a pool of drool?
"You attend enough games, you'll see everything," counseled J.J. Bush, who has served as the team's trainer for more than 20 years.
Anyhow, blood might not yield as many comedic stains as macaroni-laced vomit, but we'll give it a go. So, teammates, your impressions?
"I saw him when he came out," Braxton Dupree noted. "It looked pretty nasty."
"Oh, it looks disgusting," Dino Gregory agreed, sitting next to the oozing side of Neal's face. "Man, I had no idea it was like that. I thought he hit his nose at first, when he first came out. That's crazy. Man, that's pretty gross."
Neal, as you might imagine, was asked whether he could potentially use the wound as a pick-up line.
"Hopefully it might work for me a little bit," he said, "but mostly girls just like me because of my charming personality."
And sure, there have been plenty of wounds in the storied history of Maryland basketball, though Voice of the Terps Johnny Holliday couldn't remember any like this. "A lot of bleeding hearts over the years," he offered.
Laron Profit once bled from above the eye during an early-season tournament, according to Bush, the trainer. Greivis Vasquez bled from his forehead early in his Maryland career. Heck, just this year Sean Mosley needed some postgame stitches after an unfortunate run-in with Dupree's tooth during a win over Michigan State.
"I just felt a little drowsiness, and then felt something warm coming down my face, and I wiped it and seen it," Mosley remembered. "I tried to wipe it on my jersey so I [wouldn't have] to come out of the game, but the ref saw it."
I asked if this meant Dupree had essentially bit his teammate's face; "yeah, basically," Mosley agreed.
He wound up with "some little stickers or something" on his cheek during the game, and three stitches afterward, far short of Neal's 15. You want more numbers? Bush said yesterday's wound was about an inch and three-quarters long, and a half-inch wide, describing it as "pretty nasty" and "the worst facial laceration I think I've seen in basketball."
"Usually I can patch 'em up on the bench, at least close it up to stop the bleeding," Bush explained. "That's usually how the scenario goes, but if we'd used steri-strips and tape, he'd have had blood running down his face the whole time."
In fact, there was some uncertainty about that question. The students I was sitting with when Neal re-entered the game claimed the wound was still bleeding. Coach Gary Williams said Neal's gash "started to bleed a little bit again when he was out there" in the second half. Not so, according to the player.
"It was more the sweat kind of just getting the goo out of there, but it wasn't bleeding," Neal told the postgame media throng. "It was the sweat that was dripping from my head down through the cut to bring the blood down."
What else do you need to know? Well, Neal said this was his first on-court loss of blood, although he also received stitches near his other eyebrow once upon a time while chasing some friends.
"I tripped on the curb and face-planted," Neal said. "This one's a lot uglier. One of the doctors took a picture of me before they put stitches in so I could see it. It was pretty ugly. But they did a good job with it. We'll see how it looks after they get the stitches out."
And yes, I did ask Williams whether he had ever played with a flesh wound on his head.
"People think I'm nuts," the coach said, "so I must have had one somewhere along the line."
(About the game: Maryland won.)
January 21, 2009; 12:24 AM ET
Categories: College Basketball , Terps
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