Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

MU’s Elliott bounces back from injuries

- Ben Steele

The run of bad luck with injuries had taken its toll on Marquette's Greg Elliott.

How could it not? Every time it looked like the guard was on the road to recovery, a freak accident would bump him off course.

In his first game in a MU uniform as a freshman in the 2017-'18 season – an exhibition against Lindenwood – the 6foot-3 Elliott partially tore tendons in his left thumb falling to the court. He played the entire season in a cast but still became an important rotation player, averaging 18.3 minutes per game.

MU coach Steve Wojciechow­ski was effusive in his praise of Elliott at the start of practice last season. But the guard hurt the same thumb in October. He needed surgery and eventually decided to redshirt.

Elliott was dealt another cruel blow in June when he injured his right ankle on an awkward fall.

Another surgery. More tedious rehab. “Mentally it was tough,” Elliott said. “But with my family and my teammates, they all helped me keep it together.

“Because I was going through a really tough time, especially after coming back from the thumb injury and then getting hurt again with the ankle. It was real tough, but without my teammates and my family I probably wouldn't be here.”

Elliott was talking on Saturday after going through an extended practice for the first time since the ankle surgery. He showed why he could be an important player for MU this season. During a span of a few minutes in the five-on-five scrimmage, the long-armed Elliott made a steal for layup, hit a three-pointer and sank a tough shot off the glass after knifing his way to the basket.

“He's a really smart basketball player,” Wojciechow­ski said. “He doesn't make a lot of mistakes. He makes really good decisions.

“He makes the people around him better. I mean this as a compliment, he keeps the game simple.”

Elliott provides the ball-hawking defense and playmaking ability on offense that MU sorely missed from him last season.

“Greg's one of those guys, he can do a little of everything,” Wojciechow­ski said. “I think he's going to complement the guys he plays with really well.”

Elliott was visibly winded during Saturday's practice. His ankle still doesn't allow him to run smoothly.

“Being able to get up and down, fiveon-five, against other guys that are at my skill level or on my team, I'd say my biggest thing would be getting back into game shape,” Elliott said. “That's going to take me some time.”

But Elliott was overjoyed to be back on the court. While sitting out last season, Elliott was an engaged observer during practices and games. Wojciechow­ski called him a future coach.

“I think I am a visual learner anyway,” Elliott said. “So I can see what's going on, how Coach talked through it. Once I see it, I know what I need to do and when the action happens I know what needs to be done. So watching has helped me a lot.”

Nothing beats playing, though. It clearly meant something for Elliott to share the court again with the people who helped him through those days of rehab and self-doubt.

“Even when I was hurt, my teammates were always around me,” Elliott said. “Whenever they did something, they tried include me, even though I was on crutches or whatnot. They just made me feel like I was still part of the team, even though I was incapable to perform on the basketball floor.

“And that was real big. It just showed me it's way more than basketball with this team. We love each other as people. We're great people at that.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States