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Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Men's Basketball

House looks to rebound from knee injury

Sophomore forward Danuel House had a tough rehabilitation from his first major injury. | Justin Tijerina/The Daily Cougar

After suffering an early season knee injury, sophomore forward Danuel House has returned to the floor to give the Cougars a fighting chance in the tough American Athletic Conference with only five regular season games remaining before the conference tournament.  |  Justin Tijerina/The Daily Cougar

Following a basketball season full of recognition his freshman year, forward Danuel House’s sophomore season came with setbacks.

After the former five-star recruit showed some early promise — he was the first UH basketball player to be named Conference USA Freshman of the Year — House suffered from a torn meniscus in his knee Nov. 26 against Texas Tech. As a result, he averages five fewer points per game. He missed nine games because of the torn meniscus — the first major injury of his career — before returning against Louisville Jan. 16.

More than a month since he stepped back on the court, House trusts his knee and is still gaining confidence as the Cougars (12-13, 4-8) prepare for the stretch run of the season. UH has only five games remaining before the American Athletic Conference tournament begins March 12.

Standing at six-foot-seven and 195 pounds, House has the size and quickness that allow him the versatility to play forward or guard, but his credentials as a competitor were tested when he needed to persevere through the rehabilitation process. He has gradually been able to do more on the court.

“First thing we wanted to know is to get him as physically healthy as we could, and then from there it’s when does he have the confidence mentally to where it’s not going to bother him,” said head coach James Dickey.

For House, getting back into the mix and adjusting to game speed has been tough, but he said it pushed him to work that much harder to make up for the time that he missed.

Coming back from a knee injury is tough for athletes, especially in the middle of a season. House has worked well with the medical staff and associate athletics trainer John Houston.

Houston, who is in his 17th season with UH, managed House’s treatment and rehabilitation process.

Houston said that anytime a player has surgery, the training staff goes through phases depending on the surgical procedure that’s done. For instance, an ACL healing process can span across a four-month period, but an injury like House’s was less of an issue.

“I don’t want to call it simple, because surgery is always a big deal, but it’s just scaled down a little bit,” Houston said. “His recovery time was set at about three to six weeks, but it depended on how he responded post-surgically.”

Staff monitored House periodically to ensure there were no increases in swelling or pain. The training staff’s top priority is preventing secondary infections, so staff members tend to the wounds and start progressing from that point.

“House never had any setbacks, and his recovery went perfectly,” Houston said. “When I had him in a controlled setting, not running up and down amongst all the trees, he looked real good, but then they get even more apprehensive when they’re back in the mix, so it takes a while for them to get over that hurdle.”

From a therapy standpoint, they are working as much with House’s mind as with his body. House was able to move through these phases quickly.

“85 percent of rehab, you’re going to see gains and it’s going to move really fast, but the last 15 percent is the toughest part of any rehab that you’re going through,” Houston said. “It’s difficult for you to gain that confidence on coming back, wondering, ‘Am I going to get hurt again?’ So a lot of it is mental.”

Now that House is back to competing with his teammates, he has put the injury and pursuit of individual accolades behind him. He said he just wants to win.

“The personal goals come once we win, because once we start winning as a team, then those personal goals can kick in,” House said. “One of those goals is to go to the NCAA tournament as a team and put another banner up in Hofheinz.”

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