By Joe Santoliquito, Patch.com
January 20, 2011
Ryan Furst knows one speed and only one speed on a basketball court, and that’s full throttle all the time. The Marple Newtown High School 6-foot-4-inch junior doesn’t know any other way. It’s why he’s in the middle of everything, why he’s not afraid to thrust himself into the mosh pit that gathers under the basket awaiting a rebound, or not afraid to lunge on the floor for a loose ball.
It’s why Furst leads Marple Newtown in scoring, averaging 12 points a game, and rebounding, pulling down nine boards a game—and he’s just touching the surface of what he may be able to do. What’s more is that he’s had to recover from a torn patellar tendon in his right knee, which hasn’t seemed to slow him down at all.
But a lot of things have changed since June 2010 when Furst was pushed from behind after going up for a dunk in a summer league at St. Joseph’s University. The shove caused Furst to land awkwardly and catch his knee on the jagged edge of the collapsed stands, opening up what appeared to be a severe cut.
The following day it proved to be much, much more.
“I didn’t understand how serious it was at first,” Furst recalled. “We went to the hospital that night. I thought they’d just stitch me up and that would be it. Overnight my knee blew up like a tennis ball the next morning. That’s when I started to get pretty concerned. I didn’t know what was going on. We went back to the hospital the next day, and found myself spending the next two days in the hospital when they found I tore my patellar tendon. I asked the doctors if I’d be able to play football in the fall, they told me I wouldn’t be able to—that was pretty depressing. But I was relieved when they said I’d be allowed to play basketball.”
Only after a rigorous rehab, which required two months of arduous work and stretching three days a week, between 60-90 minutes a session, did Furst return. He lost 10 to 15 pounds because of the injury, and had to rebuild a leg that atrophy shrunk.
“I just wanted to get back on the court, so I worked as hard as I could so I could get back to playing basketball again,” Furst said. “I didn’t know what to expect when I got back. I was a little tentative at first, and I started jogging in November.”
Tigers’ coach Jerry Doemling was certainly pleased—and amazed by Furst’s quick recovery.
“That’s Ryan,” Doemling said. “He’s still playing through some stiffness, and he’s pushing through it. What’s really amazing is that Ryan couldn’t do anything until November, and he’s our leading scorer and rebounder. I think he’s just only scratching the surface of what he can do. We can use Ryan anywhere, and he’s versatile and athletic, I can have him defensively on a point guard or a center.”
The irony is that if there is one thing Doemling asks of his junior star is to slow down, just a little.
“Even coming off the injury, Ryan’s going 110-miles-an-hour,” said Doemling, laughing. “That’s the one thing he has to watch, believe it or not. Sometimes he goes too fast, so fast that he’ll go flying by everyone to the basket. He has more post moves than anyone I’ve ever seen. But sometimes he tries to do too much and thinks too much. But I’ll take the trade-off because he plays defense the same way; he’s constant, all over. What I’m also pleased with is how Ryan has done academically, making the honor roll the first two semesters of his junior year.”
The injury caused Furst to be grateful for a few things.
“I was never injured like that before, and I think having something as important as basketball taken away makes me realize how important the game is,” Furst said. “Yes, I play hard because you just never know when something you love doing can be taken away again.”