Archie looks to “rebound” from injury


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Devon Archie’s ears rang as he lay sprawled on the floor of Indiana’s Assembly Hall on Feb. 5.

The Iowa forward had gone airborne to challenge Hoosier guard Victor Oladipo’s shot. The two collided, and Archie slammed into the hardwood.

“I just remember landing on my back,” he said. “I remember trying to get up, and I couldn’t see. I was stumbling, and I heard the buzzer go off, and Jarryd [Cole] came and got me.”

The smash-up left Archie with a concussion that is still lingering almost three weeks after the initial impact. The 6-9 Indianapolis native said he’s getting better, and the mild on-and-off headaches he’s been having are a vast improvement over the constant throbbing he felt in the days immediately after the accident.

He still isn’t completely healthy, though, and he hasn’t appeared in three of the Hawkeyes’ last four games. He played 10 minutes in the team’s loss to Northwestern on Feb. 17, but reported a headache after the final buzzer and didn’t see the court against Michigan on Feb. 19.

He has been missed.

Archie doesn’t play much, averaging 7.9 minutes per contest, but he has proven to be a vital part of the team’s supporting cast. The lanky forward has yanked down 60 rebounds this season, which translates to a team-best .36 boards per minute of playing time and puts him on pace for 14.4 rebounds per 40 minutes — a number that would be the best in the country.

Archie’s teammates don’t think it’s a coincidence that his absence corresponds with the squad’s slide through Big Ten play. Two of the three losses without the forward have been by 3 points in overtime, and Cole said Archie’s 7-4 wingspan would have come in handy.

“We’re missing a guy like [him],” Cole said. “He’s very long, lean, and athletic … If we can defend a few more points in the paint than we have in the past, maybe those 3-point losses wouldn’t happen.”

While that’s debatable, no one can question Archie’s tangible contributions in his first full year as a Hawkeye. The 21-year-old transferred from Vincennes Community College (Indiana) before last season but received a medical redshirt after injuring his shoulder in an early season practice.

The injury train didn’t stop there. The spindly legged forward had knee surgery prior to this season, and first-year head coach Fran McCaffery said he was a “non-factor” in preseason workouts.

“He was stumbling and fumbling … he wasn’t even getting practice reps,” McCaffery said on Nov. 10. “I wasn’t expecting anything from him … But he started feeling better, and he started asserting himself. I got on him pretty intently, and he responded.”

Just when it seemed like everything was going right, though, the nagging headaches restarted a trend Archie admitted is frustrating.

“It feels like things just keep happening,” he said. “You try to stay positive. I talked to Coach [McCaffery], and he said there are things I can’t control, so I can’t let it affect me. It could’ve happened to anybody — it just happened to happen to me.”

Health has been elusive, but Archie has remained upbeat. The soft-spoken forward decided to try out for his high-school team when he grew 6 inches before his junior year, and he thanked his family for pushing him to succeed at every level of the sport.

“I didn’t think I’d make it this far,” Archie said. “I was [aiming for] maybe a low-major, mid-major [program] somewhere … This is a dream for a lot of people. I feel I’m living that dream.”

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