HARRISONBURG — Low-top or high-top shoes? For the most part, it’s more style than functionality, but for one James Madison basketball player, the choice is far more important.
Second-leading scorer Charles Cooke – a 6-foot-6 sophomore guard – re-aggravated a nagging right high-ankle sprain near the first half of JMU’s loss Saturday at William & Mary, an injury expected to keep him out of the lineup for at least two games.
He was also wearing his low-top shoes, a decision he is now regretting.
“No more low-tops for me,” Cooke said. “… With the low-tops, you have no support other than the tape.”
One bright note for the Dukes: They don’t play again until this weekend, limiting the number of games Cooke will miss.
With coach Matt Brady on the road Monday looking at recruits, JMU associate head coach Rob O’Driscoll addressed Cooke’s status at a press conference at O’Neill’s Grill.
“He’s got a pretty good ankle sprain, I don’t think he’s going to play next Saturday [against Charleston],” O’Driscoll said. “We’re revaluating on a daily basis, but those ankle sprains… I would probably put it at two weeks, but it could be earlier or it could be longer than that. He’s probably not going to play Saturday and maybe not the next one or two games after.”
For the sputtering Dukes (6-13 overall, 1-4 in the Colonial Athletic Association), Cooke’s loss means replacing a valuable scorer and solid defender.
It’s not foreign territory for Madison, which played without star sophomore guard Andre Nation for the first 15 games of the season due to suspension.
“Other guys just have to step up,” O’Driscoll said. “We played without Andre Nation for 15 games and our guys played well; now we’re going to have to play without Charles Cooke for a game or two. Hopefully only a game or two, it might be more. We have a lot of guys that can step up and make plays and other guys will get chances to play and hopefully be there when the time’s needed.”
High-ankle sprains aren’t new to Cooke, who originally injured himself during a workout over the summer on campus. He went up for a rebound and came down wrong, turning the ankle so bad that he thinks it touched the ground. That time, his ankle swelled midway up his calf.
The ankle never fully healed, and Cooke said he sometimes tweaks it during practice. Those tweaks are nothing major, but re-injuring it is in the back of his mind.
“The injury was still there,” Cooke said. “Even though I didn’t feel it, it was still there. I could roll it just a little bit and be in practice limping.”
Cooke turned the ankle again on Jan. 11 against Delaware during a wild fast-break attempt near the JMU bench. Cooke left the game, but returned to finish with 14 points and seven rebounds.
After that game, Cooke missed one practice and did not finish another, but played without a problem last Wednesday against Northeastern.
Still, the injury was in the back of his mind.
“It’s not even like the running part; it’s me thinking about tripping over someone’s foot or coming down from a rebound and stepping on somebody’s foot,” Cooke said. “That was on my conscience a little bit, but I tried not to think about it.”
Cooke – who said he will be doing resistance training in addition to icing the ankle – was in a walking boot Monday after practice. He did not have the results of Saturday’s X-rays, but he’s undergoing two treatments a day and said he wants to be 100 percent when he comes back.
“I just need to get this ankle healthy, all the way healthy again and not like 75 percent, because it’s so easy to just tweak a little bit and just re-aggravate,” Cooke said. “I want to get this out of the way and be ready for not just these close games, but the ones down the road that my team really needs me for.”
As for the shoe situation, Cooke has always been a Nike low-top fan but said it’ll be high-tops from here on out. It’ll take getting used to, though. Against Northeastern, Cooke started the game in Jordan brand high-tops, but switched at halftime to Nike low-tops because he was not comfortable.
He also thinks he’ll be wearing a brace over the pre-game tape job now.
Whatever it takes to stay healthy.