Even as the BYU Cougars put on an exciting show for several thousand fans during their annual Boom Shakalaka event on Friday evening, one couldn't help but notice the black cloud of concern hanging over the festivities: Kyle Collinsworth was not participating.
No explanation was given by the event's announcers or by coach Dave Rose during a brief interview segment, but the team's record-breaking point guard and most valuable player remained riveted to the bench. Now, due to interviews conducted by Vanquish The Foe with multiple sources close to the program, we know why.
According to sources with direct knowledge of the situation, Collinsworth has been experiencing pain in his left knee in recent weeks. Medical personnel who have evaluated the player reportedly suspect the cause of the pain is patellar tendinitis — a common injury among basketball and volleyball players that is frequently referred to as "Jumper's Knee."
According to the Mayo Clinic:
Patellar tendinitis is a common overuse injury, caused by repeated stress on your patellar tendon. The stress results in tiny tears in the tendon, which your body attempts to repair. But as the tears in the tendon multiply, they cause pain from inflammation and weakening of the tendon.
While tendinitis is not considered an especially serious injury in and of itself, it can cause lingering discomfort that could continue to hinder Collinsworth's performance on the court, if not properly addressed. Furthermore, attempting to play through the pain could result in larger, more painful tears in the tendon, which could lead to the more serious patellar tendinopathy.
Obviously, BYU cannot afford to be without its star player for the prolonged amount of time that a more serious injury would require once the team gets into the bulk of its schedule, so the program is taking a cautious approach to encourage as much healing as possible now, before the games start to count.
In keeping with commonly prescribed treatment for tendinitis, Collinsworth has been held out of practice and other basketball events (i.e., Boom Shakalaka), and will likely continue to rest his knee over at least the coming week. Sources say he is unlikely to participate in Wednesday's Cougar Tip-Off scrimmage and may also sit out Friday's exhibition matchup with Arizona Christian.
There is no exact timetable for Collinsworth's return at this time. Any decision on when the senior co-captain can resume full basketball activities will be made depending on his response to treatment.
According to one source with ties to the program, Collinsworth received an injection last week to assist with his recovery — possibly a corticosteroid injection into the sheath around his patellar tendon to help reduce inflammation and relieve pain. This is a standard treatment for persistent tendinitis, although Vanquish The Foe could not independently confirm the specific injection administered.
While patellar tendinitis can require surgery in some rare cases, it is most likely that Collinsworth simply needs to rest his knee and allow the tendon to heal until the pain subsides. This, of course, has the negative consequence of taking him off the court in the near-term, throwing an unexpected wrench into Rose's plans as he prepares his team for non-conference play.
While the practices and exhibitions that Collinsworth is likely to miss don't actually count for the Cougars' record, they can serve as important opportunities for the coaching staff to instruct their players, practice new sets and explore lineup combinations — all of which could now be a little bit harder to get a solid handle on without the team's most important player in the mix.
To be sure, as inconvenient as it may be for the team's starting point guard and unquestioned leader to be absent in the near-term, it's certainly preferable to having him experience nagging pain and discomfort throughout the rest of the season — especially with the distinct possibility of more serious injury always lurking. It's best for Kyle and best for the program for him to rest and focus on getting healthy now, so he can be 100 percent and pain-free whenever he returns — whether that be before the season opener on November 13 or sometime thereafter.
Injuries are never welcome news, but if there's a silver lining to this one it's that the pain isn't occurring in Collinsworth's surgically repaired right knee. That could indicate a more serious, potentially structural problem that could have long-term ramifications. While it is possible that the current injury to his left knee could ultimately end up being diagnosed as something more serious than simply tendinitis, it appears for the moment that Cougar fans can breathe a little more easily.
UPDATE (11:15 a.m.): BYU has released an official statement confirming that Kyle Collinsworth is suffering from tendinitis in his left knee and that he will not participate in Wednesday's Cougar Tip-Off scrimmage. He is listed as day-to-day.
BYU on Kyle Collinsworth: "He is resting and is day to day this week." Cougars have instrasquad scrimmage on Wednesday night at Marriott Ctr— Jay Drew (@drewjay) October 26, 2015
K. Collinsworth is listed as "Day to Day" w/ tendinitis in his L knee. BYUSN has been told he is not expected 2 play in Wed's Cougar Tipoff.— BYU Sports Nation (@BYUSportsNation) October 26, 2015