Bloomington, Ind. – Lance Stemler doesn't have any bad memories about the concussion he suffered a week ago that sidelined him for the Duke game.
In fact, the Hoosiers' 6-8, 205-pound junior doesn't have any memory of it at all.
In practice a little more than a week ago, Stemler said he went down to the McCracken Court floor on a play, and on his way to the hardwood his jaw came crashing into the foot of teammate Xavier Keeling. Soon afterwards, Stemler returned to his feet and finished practice.
But Stemler doesn't remember any of it. In fact, all he knows about the rest of the day is what he's been told by teammates. Stemler's first memory after the incident is the following morning, when a doctor came to see him and determine exactly what had happened to the Hoosier forward.
"I woke up and asked Ben (Allen) what had happened, and they said they had already explained it to me 20 times," Stemler said.
What had happened was Stemler had suffered a severe concussion. It was one that not only wiped out his memory of the event and the subsequent hours, but also one that made him unavailable for practice most of last week and kept him out of commission for Indiana's 54-51 loss to Duke in Durham.
"(Missing the Duke game) hurt," Stemler said. "I just wanted to go out and help us win the game."
While his teammates were coming close against the 11th-ranked Blue Devils and then preparing for Saturday's home contest against Charlotte, Stemler's time was spent shooting on the side, battling headaches and being monitored closely by the IU medical staff.
Stemler was finally cleared to play in the win over Charlotte, coming off the bench to contribute 10 points in 12 minutes. It wasn't until just before Saturday's tip-off that Stemler learned he'd be able to get back on the floor, although in a limited capacity.
"At about 5 o'clock (Saturday) I was in the doctor's office," Stemler said. "The day before jaw had swelled up real bad, I had MRIs and stuff, and the doctors said they didn't know if I'd get to play. But after shoot around, they said I could get limited minutes, and I was happy about that."
To get back on the floor Stemler had to pass a test, but not one administered by IU Coach Kelvin Sampson. Instead, he'd been given a computer memory test by the medical staff to test if he was in fact ready to return to full contact.
"There's a computer test I had to take prior to practices, just in case you get hit in the head," Stemler said. "Then, you have to take it again and they compare it. I did it a couple days after (the incident) and it wasn't good enough that they would let me play.
"I did it against Saturday morning and did better, and that's pretty much why they cleared me."
Since then, the headaches have faded and he's been fully cleared by team doctors.
His return is big for the Hoosiers. He's the Hoosiers second-leading scorer at 11.8/game and leads the squad in minutes with 29.2 per outing. He's shooting a team-best 50 percent (14-of-28) from 3-point range and his also averaging 3.8 rebounds.
"I was hoping to come in and do the things I do, which is knock down shots and help execute offensively, try to make some hustle plays," Stemler said. "So far, I think I've done pretty well with that."
He's also given Sampson a couple of options with his playing rotation. With D.J. White a lock to start on a nightly basis, the Hoosier head coach can go with Ben Allen and go big against foes, or he can instead go with the smaller but more mobile Stemler to match-up with smaller opponents.
Depending on the opposing line-up there are times Stemler is giving up some size and strength when defending the post, but that hasn't been a huge obstacle in the first month of the season.
"With the way we're playing, fronting everything, I think that helps me a lot because I can use my quickness to get around," Stemler said. "Then I don't have to be one-on-one in the post, so long as I keep them from getting it, the size in the post doesn't really hurt."
No Painful Memories for Stemler
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