Gruns Runs His Way Back

In the minds of many fans and college basketball observers, the difference between a good and a great season in 2005-06 for Stanford lies in the hands of Dan Grunfeld. The senior tore his ACL late last season, leaving a question mark as to Grunfeld's return and effectiveness. Last week, that question mark became an exclamation point...

Last Tuesday, the Stanford men's basketball team held their annual one-mile conditioning run.  Last September, Dan Grunfeld won the mile with a time of 5:05.  Any chance of repeating that title was shredded along with Grunfeld's ACL last February.  Privately, on the very day that he crumpled to the Maples Pavilion floor, the 6'6" wing promised himself that he would run the mile and pass his conditioning test on the first try.

Grunfeld has worked hard the last seven-plus months in his rehabilitation.  Nobody doubted that he would.  The question at the forefront of our thoughts, however, has been how much and how soon that rehab would yield fruit?

Answers have come quickly in the last week-plus for Grunfeld and Stanford.  It started last Tuesday with the mile run, which Grunfeld passed with flying colors...

Dan Grunfeld - 5:10
Jason Haas - 5:13
Chris Hernandez - 5:15
Anthony Goods - 5:16

Simply amazing.

It was his winning time in the mile a year ago that sent out a loud signal to the Cardinal coaches, players and fans that Grunfeld was a force to be reckoned with.  Last week's shot across the bow again tells us to not underestimate the senior standout.

While that performance in the mile should be cause enough for celebration, Grunfeld has followed up with more positive progress.  Last week he took part in nearly all practice drills.  All that remained was for him to play/scrimmage against a defense.  On Wednesday, Grunfeld stayed after practice for his first basketball against a defender in more than seven months - a one-on-one session with redshirt freshman Kenny Brown.  Grunfeld and Brown again dueled Monday of this week, with Grunfeld making great strides.

The progress was strong enough, in fact, that this afternoon - in front of me in Maples Pavilion as I write - Grunfeld is playing his first five-on-five pickup basketball of the fall.  While he has clear signs of rust, the Stanford senior does not look like somebody who has missed two-thirds of a calendar year playing basketball.  He is hitting shots, making steals and has thrown down at least one dunk.

The return of Dan Grunfeld appears promising to these eyes.  With exactly one month until the first exhibition game of the year and six weeks until the regular season opener, the electricity in and around Maples Pavilion is building already.

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