Injured Verwers still helping in any way he can
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Those game nights are some of the toughest for Stephen Verwers.
The senior's season came to an abrupt end on Christmas Day when he suffered a broken leg. Although there remains the disappointment of not being able to suit up, the injury is healing and he maintains a positive outlook as he attends practice and games. He'll be there to support the Rainbows when they face Nevada on Saturday at the Stan Sheriff Center.
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Twice in a span of about a minute, Stephen Verwers uses the word "blessing" in talking about his situation. A striking word choice considering his left leg is still covered in a cast and protective boot.
Nevada (8-5) at Hawaii (5-9, 1-1 WAC)
When: Saturday, 7:05 p.m.
Where: Stan Sheriff Center
TV: KFVE Ch. 5
Radio: KKEA 1420-AM
Verwers, a senior center with the Hawaii basketball team, broke two bones in his lower leg during practice on Christmas Day, ending his college career. Still, he's attended the Rainbow Warriors' home games since then and was at yesterday's practice.
He had surgery the night the injury occured and had a rod inserted in his leg. He continues to walk with crutches, but has more mobility since being able to put some weight on the leg.
"It's healing pretty well. I can put some weight on it now. The doctor said in about three weeks or so I'll be able to walk without crutches, so that's a pretty big blessing," Verwers said. "It's amazing that my leg was broken in half and to be able to put weight on it now, it's pretty amazing."
Verwers, who is engaged to be married in September, graduated last month and plans on taking graduate courses at UH when the spring semester starts next week. He hopes he can use his new perspective to help his teammates on the court.
"I want to be as much a part of the team as I can, when I can maybe even travel with the guys," Verwers said. "Just try to help the guys as much as I can.
"This is just another change in my role. I just have to figure how to adapt to this new role and finish out this season. ... You have to stay positive. I think there's a bigger plan in my life, so this is a minor setback. In the end I'll be OK."
Verwers had started 10 games and averaged 6.2 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. More significantly, at 6-foot-11 and 250 pounds, he gave the Rainbows a sizeable presence in the post.
While he maintains a positive outlook, he admits game nights are pretty hard to bear.
"Especially games like Utah (State) or games where you see they need a little bit of size or somebody inside to help," he said. "Those are tough games to watch."
Looking for support
The Rainbows added to the win column recently and increased their scoring output lately. And with four-time defending Western Athletic Conference champion Nevada visiting the Stan Sheriff Center on Saturday to open a three-game homestand, the Rainbows hope to see an increase in attendance numbers as well.
With a rough start and the Warrior football team's exploits overshadowing basketball during the early season -- sometimes even during their games -- UH has averaged 2,876 in the arena over 10 home dates.
"We're going to play hard, play exciting and I think we have a good product that we put on the floor," UH coach Bob Nash said. "We need all the help we can get with our sixth man if people come out and give us support and get behind us. You see what it did for the football team."
"The fans have been there before and don't have any doubt they'll be there now," UH senior Matt Gibson said.