CUYAHOGA FALLS: Kent State senior guard Randal Holt has been cleared to practice today after undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee in late June.
Holt, a Glenville High School product who finished second on the team in scoring with a 12.7 average last season, is the lone returning regular starter for the Golden Flashes.
Holt said the doctor told him to limit his activity to six-minute stretches, but he will have seven full practices before the KSU men open basketball season Nov. 9 at home against Drexel. Holt said he will not participate in the scrimmage Sunday against Rochester (Mich.).
“The doctor doesn’t want me to push it, as I get fatigued,” Holt said.
KSU coach Rob Senderoff couldn’t hide his excitement Wednesday morning during the inaugural Coaches vs. Cancer of Northeast Ohio Tip-Off Breakfast at the Sheraton Suites.
“I said this to him, ‘Even if you don’t play, it’s great,’ ” Senderoff said of the opener. “Having him back on the floor will lift our kids.”
Holt said he suffered the noncontact injury during open gym.
“No one was even near me,” Holt said. “I guess I twisted it the wrong way and it tore. Having had two of those surgeries before, I knew exactly what it was.”
Holt said it was the second surgery on his left knee, the first an arthroscopic and cleanout procedure. Asked how his meniscus was rebuilt, he said, “I’m not sure. I was sleeping.”
Holt, 6-foot-1, got down to 160 pounds after surgery, but he is back up to 172. Even with the weight loss and rehab, Holt said he “tried to stay on the positive side.”
“It could have been a lot worse,” he said.
That attitude has impressed his teammates, even though he missed a month of conditioning and another month of team workouts.
“Over the summer, I asked the kids to name three leaders and 15 for 15 named Randal,” Senderoff said. “I asked them who has worked the hardest and 15 of 15 named him. He got 15 votes and he hasn’t done anything.”
NCAA gets tough
The NCAA approved tougher sanctions Tuesday for rules violators that included standard penalty guidelines and increased fines and suspensions. Coaches can be suspended for up to one year.
“Any kind of violation within our program the coach is held accountable and we could be suspended for games,” University of Akron coach Keith Dambrot said. “Things are changing and they don’t want people in the business to cheat.
“Ultimately, we’re accountable for our programs, anyway. If something goes wrong, we’re on the front lines.”
KSU hired Senderoff in 2011 although he carried six more weeks of sanctions for NCAA recruiting violations when he served as an assistant at Indiana under Kelvin Sampson.
“It does give everybody heightened awareness to make sure your assistants and the people who work for you are doing what they’re supposed to do and following the rules,” Senderoff said. “It’s the NCAA doing the right thing, making sure as best they can that everybody’s following the rules and playing on the same level playing field.”
Touched by cancer
Participating in the breakfast were four area basketball coaches — Senderoff, Dambrot, Youngstown State’s Jerry Slocum and Cleveland State’s Gary Waters.
Slocumb said his mother is a 35-year cancer survivor and he lost his cousin, a 58-year-old mother of four, three weeks ago. Senderoff said his grandmother died of the disease five years ago.
Dambrot wears four bands on his left arm to remind him of three stricken. Two are for Phil McKnight, father of former Zips Brett and Chris McKnight, who died of lymphoma. The other two are for Trevor Weigand, the son of UA assistant Terry Weigand, who was diagnosed with brain cancer when he was 5 and has become “almost a case study” for the disease, and for family friend Kevin Neff, 15, a Walsh Jesuit baseball player who passed away from a brain tumor.
Dambrot said he missed the first practice of his 22-year coaching career to attend the event. Waters is designating CSU’s home game against Kent State on Jan. 2 to benefit Coaches vs. Cancer, a collaboration of the National Association of Basketball Coaches and the American Cancer Society.
Marla Ridenour can be reached at email@example.com. Read the her blog at http://www.ohio.com/marla. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sports.abj.