Reconstructing Rod

Rachel Jones

Athletes have a remarkable awareness of their bodies. They know how to turn, how to land and when something is not right.

When senior Rod Sherman had microfracture surgery his sophomore year, his athletic intuition was dead on.

“I was going up for a dunk (during the Mid-American Conference Tournament), and I felt something go crazy,” Sherman said. “I continued to play the rest of the game, but I knew something was wrong. I had to get it fixed.”

With two previous knee injuries, Sherman knew what that would entail.

He tore an ACL in high school and tore his meniscus his sophomore year at Kent. Sherman said the initial injury was the toughest because it was his first one.

“When you’re in high school, you think about going to college and playing basketball,” Sherman said. “You don’t hear about too many people who tear their ACL and continue playing basketball. That was the hardest part, but once I got passed that, I feel like I could get passed any injury.”

The most recent injury earned the guard a redshirted season and a long rehab.

“Here we go again,” Sherman said, shaking his head. “That’s all I said. I’m determined to continue to play basketball, so I wasn’t going to let that stop me. I just had to get back to it and prove some more people wrong.”

He could not put any pressure on his knee the first few months and spent a lot of time caught up in a cycle of icing and resting. But Sherman said rehab wasn’t bad.

“It wasn’t really tough at all because you have to have a mindset to want to do the rehab,” Sherman explained. “The thing that hurts is just watching. You’re out, so you just watch them play. You can’t do anything, but you want to do stuff.”

Kent State coach Geno Ford said it was hard having one of his best players on the bench, but the time off actually helped Sherman in the long-run.

“I think the year away made him a smarter player because he was on the sidelines getting to see things through a different situation (than) being on the floor,” Ford said. “He got to sit back, watch the game and learn.”

Sherman would then teach his teammates what he saw during the game, developing the leadership skills he still showcases on the team this season.

“It’s almost like having an assistant coach on the staff, to be honest,” Ford said with a laugh. “He could probably run a practice as well as we could, at this point.”

And while the team benefitted from having the versatile guard return, Sherman said the feeling of coming back was incredible.

“It was heaven,” he said. “I was just happy to be back on the court. (But) once we got back in the season, it was like I didn’t leave it all.”

Now that Sherman is getting back to his game, Ford said he plans to get the most out of the senior.

“Typically, players do one or two things specifically well,” Ford said. “But in Rod’s case, he’s a good defender, good rebounder, he can score, he’s a good passer — he’s an all-around player. He’s certainly got a tough gig, but if anyone can handle it, I have full confidence Rod could do it.”

Sherman also has the ability to play three positions on the perimeter, which Ford has never had another player do for the amount of minutes Rod plays before.

While Sherman has the skills to play any position well, Ford said he does not want to exhaust the player’s talent.

“Rod’s capable of giving more, but in the end, we don’t want to take away what makes him so good,” Ford said. “We’re going to need Rod to be Rod.”

For the senior, Sherman said that means bringing leadership, experience and production.

“I want to be productive offensively, defensively — whatever it takes to win,” Sherman said.

He does want another MAC Championship before he leaves Kent State, but said that awards aren’t important to him. Sherman’s main goal is to have a good season and play professionally after this, which is something Ford said he thinks is well-deserved.

“He’s battled those knees, so he’s certainly sacrificed physically quite a bit for the program,” Ford said. “Hopefully, he can enjoy his senior year and go out on a high note, which he deserves to do.”

Contact Rachel Jones at [email protected].