The Brian Delaney Blog
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Dom Scelfo's emotions ran wild a couple of weeks ago when initial signs indicated he had seriously reinjured his knee during a pick-up game.
"We ended up getting an MRI, and they told me it was a certain kind of tear. They said it was called a 'Buckethandle Tear,'" Scelfo said. "I was (really upset). I went home (to Louisiana), and the doctor said no, that was the part he kind of snipped off last time. So it's supposed to be like that. I'm good to go. He said to ice it down, take some advil and I'm good to go."
Scelfo is a 6-foot-1, 180-pound sophomore point guard. He is still a rookie to the world of college basketball, yet a grizzled veteran of knee injury treatments and lengthy rehabilitations. In October of his senior year at Jesuit High School in New Orleans, Scelfo tore the meniscus in his knee. He returned that winter and played for Jesuit, but he reinjured his knee during training camp last year at Cornell. He missed all of last season, and became known more for wearing a bowtie at the end of the bench than for his ability to play.
So that news from his hometown doctor a few weeks ago came as sweet, sweet relief.
"To thinking I'm out for the year or something like that, to being the happiest guy in the world," he said.
Scelfo came off the bench for the Red Team in Saturday's Red-White Scrimmage. The White team crushed Red, 76-41. But Scelfo was the second name out of coach Bill Courtney's mouth when asked which players helped themselves the most during the Scrimmage (the first was Scelfo's classmate, Dwight Tarwater).
"I thought Dom Scelfo looked very, very good off the bench for the Red Team," Courtney said.
Scelfo's game, when healthy, breaks down like this: tough with a very good handle, an unselfish nature, and a smooth shooting stroke (Chris Wroblewski comes to mind). The health part remains the hang-up. His meniscus history would will keep the coaching staff cautiously patient. First, Scelfo has to get back to trusting his knee fully again. Second, he is essentially a freshman. He needs the same time to adjust/learn from mistakes that true freshmen Galal Cancer, Devin Cherry, Ned Tomic, Shonn Miller, Dave LaMore and Deion Giddens will get this year. Third, Scelfo has to prove he can defend consistently at this level (a component directly related to the first point). It may very well prove a progression that spans more than one basketball season, if the guard can keep his knee healthy.
Scelfo essentially breaks down his meniscus sitation like this: "It's cartilage (damage). It's basically arthritis. It's bone on bone rubbing."
He's learning to deal with it. His perspective, after all that time missed, has matured.
"Last year, every time I saw the guys out here or even just playing pick-up, it made me just that much hungrier to get out there and just get into it," he said. "The past two years, I've been out (a lot). Now that I'm out here, I enjoy it a lot more. I'm a lot more thankful for it, just to be out here."
With a list of injured including up to four players who can play the "four" position for Cornell, freshman Ned Tomic was one of the players capable of playing a style resembling a post game.
He made several field goals inside, using his 6-foot-7, 240-pound frame to create space for himself. He's not going to score over athletic interior players, or even non-athletic taller interior players, but he is aggressive enough - and smart enough - to catch and shoot before the aforementioned defenders can react. Even so ... with Cornell's lack of depth and bulk inside, Tomic has an opportunity here to position himself for some early playing time.
"He was really good today," Courtney said after Saturday's scrimmage. "He's been good in practice, he's a space eater, he's something we don't have. His biggest challenge is getting in shape. That's the next step for him.
Can he be a contributor on opening night, Nov. 11 at St. Bonaventure?
"We'll see. It's hard to tell right now, and we're still a little bit ways away," Courtney said. "He still has to get in shape for a college guy. He's in game shape for a high school guy right now, but if a guy beats him up the floor and makes a layup, that's not going to make me very happy. He has to be in that kind of (college) shape to do that. But he's certainly capable of scoring the basketball, he's certainly capable of carving out space and rebounding."