Maverick Rowan didn’t know a lot about concussions before N.C. State’s basketball season started.
After suffering his first in the season opener on Nov. 11, the Wolfpack sophomore knows more on the topic than he’d like.
“You don’t realize how bad a concussion is until you have one,” Rowan said recently.
After missing seven games with a concussion, Rowan is finally getting back into a groove for the Wolfpack (10-2), which plays its last nonconference warmup game against Rider (8-4) on Wednesday night at PNC Arena.
For Rowan, the head injury was a learning experience he would have rather avoided.
“You can’t do anything,” Rowan said. “I wasn’t able to run or shoot. I just had to take it easy.”
Rowan suffered the injury with 4:56 left in the first half of N.C. State’s 81-79 win over Georgia Southern. He grabbed a rebound of a missed shot by the Eagles’ Tookie Brown and Georgia Southern forward B.J. Gladden crashed into him.
“I got a rebound and went to turn up court and the dude (Gladden) jumped late and his hip hit me in the face,” Rowan said.
Rowan fell to the floor and was dazed by the collision, which was called a foul on Gladden. Referee Mike Eades checked on Rowan as he walked back to the other end of the floor to shoot the free throw and sent Rowan to the bench to be evaluated by the training staff.
Trainer Ryan Holleman cleaned up some blood around Rowan’s nose. Rowan went back in the game and missed the front end of the one-and-one free throw.
Minutes later, Rowan caught an elbow in the eye from teammate BeeJay Anya.
“I continued to play, which I probably shouldn’t have,” Rowan said. “After the game, my head was killing me.”
Rowan was evaluated by team physicians at the half and did not show concussion symptoms. He finished the physical game with the Eagles with 17 points and a career-best nine rebounds. After the game he started to show signs of a concussion and he went to the hospital. He was put in the school’s concussion protocol the next day and wasn’t cleared to practice until after the team’s 77-73 win over Boston University on Dec. 3.
“I wasn’t able to run or do anything for two and half weeks,” Rowan said.
I continued to play, which I probably shouldn’t have. After the game, my head was killing me.
Headaches were Rowan’s biggest problem, he said. He was able to get back on the court for the Wolfpack’s 67-55 overtime win against Tennessee State on Dec. 10.
He came off the bench and only played 12 minutes against Tennessee State. He was able to play 23 minutes in a rout of Appalachian State on Dec. 15. He had 13 points in that win but still looked a step slow.
“I think with Maverick, the No. 1 thing is just getting in shape,” N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said. “That’s not a knock on Maverick, he had three weeks where he was completely shut down. As he builds his stamina and gets his conditioning, I think he’s going to be very valuable to our team.”
After six points in 16 minutes in an easy win over Fairfield on Dec. 18, Rowan looked more like the freshman version of himself against McNeese State on Dec. 22. He had 15 points in 21 minutes and made 6 of 11 shots, including a 3-of-7 effort from the 3-point line.
“I’ve just been slowly working my way back,” Rowan said after the McNeese win.
N.C. State has gotten hot starts this season from wings Terry Henderson and Torin Dorn but Rowan adds a different dimension with his shooting ability.
“He spaces the floor and gets everybody else open,” freshman guard Dennis Smith Jr. said. “He helps everybody out.”
Rowan, who led the Wolfpack with 81 3-pointers last season, has made 6 of 14 (42.9 percent) the past three games.
There has been one adjustment for him. He started 31 of 33 games last year and the opener this year before the concussion. He has come off the bench the past four games since his return.
“It’s definitely an adjustment to go from starting last year to coming off the bench this year but whatever works for my team,” Rowan said. “We’ve been winning games, I can’t complain about that, we’re just happy here.”
And happy to be headache free and back on the basketball court.
Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio
Rider at N.C. State
When: 7 p.m. Wednesday
Where: PNC Arena, Raleigh
TV/Online/Radio: ACC Network Extra, 101.5-WRAL