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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Organized chaos leads Alkins back to the court

Simon Asher
Rawle Alkins holds his dislocated index finger after the Arizona-Saint Mary’s game on Saturday, March 18.

SALT LAKE CITY—The NCAA Tournament is unforgiving; one play can decide your fate. Such could have been the case for the Arizona Wildcats in the second round of the men’s basketball West Region as guard Rawle Alkins dislocated his finger.

Cue Justin Kokoskie, long-time trainer and one who is familiar with the panic that can set in when a star player goes down, sitting there staring at a finger that is going the opposite direction from the way it is meant to go.

Midway through the first half of Arizona’s 69-60 win over Saint Mary’s College, Alkins went up for a rebound and then came down hunching over in pain. 

As Alkins walked off the court the Wildcats, who were trailing in the game already, were looking down at the snake as it dug its fangs into the legs of a promising season. However, sometimes there is a remedy and when the proper approach is taken, you can remove the problem, cure it and move on, just as Arizona did Saturday night.

Related: Rawle Alkins’ ‘savage’ return lifts Arizona over Saint Mary’s

For fans at home, the feeling of watching a player so important to the team go down can cause a tremendous amount of worry, but for Kokoskie, this is what he gets paid for. In the midst of all the chaos going on around him—from the bench, to the fans, to the game itself—Kokoskie had to find his quiet space and properly evaluate the freshman from Brooklyn.

“It’s a little easier because when you’re out on the court you have tons of people overseeing it, even trying to micro-manage it,” Kokoskie said. “When you get him here [locker room] it’s isolated, you get a good thorough eval on him and take it from there.”

It becomes a game of don’t rush but hurry. He evaluated Alkins and provided an x-ray, realizing it was a slight fracture from the dislocation and then allowed Alkins to go back in the game.

It is a delicate balance of making sure no further risk is in place but also getting the player evaluated quickly enough to get him back on the court in a timely manner. Every case is different; every case requires a variance in attentiveness than another. 

Having a set of guidelines is the reason measures are taken to alleviate any panic that may set in, in this case, a call to action in the most important game of the season.

“It just comes down to certain protocol you follow right away, just get going with it,” Kokoskie said. “Evaluate the injury: What’s the next step, do we need x-rays, do we need to consult a doctor on it? Then you take it from there.”

Kokoskie’s efforts got Alkins back on the court where he was able to play an instrumental role in Saturday’s victory. Alkins finished the game and helped his team get back to the Sweet Sixteen for the fourth time in five seasons. The Wildcats head to San Jose to take on Xavier on Thursday.

Follow Saul Bookman on Twitter.

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