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Darren Duncan walks through the downtown offices of the Windsor Express with an athletic brace hanging loosely from his left knee.
He’s just finished a workout and he’s encouraged at the progress.
“It’s feeling pretty good,” said Windsor’s starting point guard. “The brace is for security. I can do a workout without it and there’s not really any pain doing any type of movements.”
Duncan had a breakout season with the Express in the National Basketball League of Canada.
Coming over in an early season trade with Halifax, he established himself as a floor leader, a clutch shooter and a nightmare to defend when he put his head down and headed for the rim. All of it earned him a starting position in the NBL of Canada’s all-star game.
The All-star game was supposed to be a happy spring board into the off-season, held just days after the London Lightning wrapped up the 2012-13 year with a second straight league title in mid April.
Instead, the weekend show threw Duncan’s future in doubt when he tore the lateral collateral ligament in his knee.
“I know everyone says you let up in the all-star game but I only know one way to play,” the New York native said of his hard-nosed style. “It was the worst timing.”
The Express named Duncan as one of five players on their protected list but his success depends on a quick first step and slashing ability.
“I don’t think I can be effective playing any other way,” said the 24-year-old, who logged an average of 35 minutes a game for Windsor.
One doctor suggested surgery, another rehab and physiotherapy.
Duncan opted to avoid the knife and a guaranteed lengthy absence from the court.
“I’ve never been out for more than two weeks ever,” the former team captain at Merrimack College said.
So after a short visit home to see family, Duncan came back to Windsor where he’s been working with the Express training staff and Dr. George Tsiaprailis of Core Spine and Sports Center.
Tsiaprailis is a Windsor native who spent 10 years as a chiropractor in California where he worked with collegiate swimmers at Stanford and members of the San Francisco 49ers of the NFL.
He brought the latest techniques home with him and an aggressive program has helped Duncan on his journey back to full strength.
“I did a couple of moves yesterday and there was no pain at all,” Duncan said. “I was ecstatic.”
He figures his knee is “about 65 per cent” and expects to declare a full recovery in a month or so.
“The darkness is over,” he said. “It’s all progress now.”
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by Mary Caton
July 23, 2013