Seizures don’t beat U’s Clark

by Michael Dougherty

Many players have scored 25 points in one half before, and people have single-handedly taken over a game, too.
But Kevin Clark’s performance in Monday night’s 72-61 come-from-behind win over Oregon was particularly heroic because of seizures the senior has been experiencing recently.
Clark has been troubled by seizures since he was a junior in high school in Savannah, Ga. He said they are brought on by fatigue and dehydration, and he must be fed fluids throughout games and practices to help prevent the seizures.
Clark said the latest attack came on Thanksgiving Day while the team was at head coach Clem Haskins’ house for dinner.
“It was the worst one I’ve had in a while,” Clark said. “It lasted five or 10 minutes, but nobody panicked because Coach Cunningham’s (Assistant AD for Basketball Operations Charles Cunningham) wife Denese is a nurse and she knows what to do.”
Clark said during timeouts in games the trainers rush to give him energy drinks like Gatorade and Powerade, fluids that replenish nutrients and keep him hydrated.
Haskins said he was unaware of the seizures when he recruited Clark out of Cowley County Community College in Arkansas City, Kan.
“That’s something we have to live with,” Haskins said. “We just hope to do all we can while he’s here, and hope he has a normal life when he leaves Minnesota.”
Clark, who’s averaging 19 points a game for the 4-0 Gophers, and fellow senior Quincy Lewis (23.7 points per game) represent almost 60 percent of the team’s offense. Further complications from the seizures is something Haskins said worries him.
“We just keep our fingers crossed that he’ll be able to finish the year without having a major one,” Haskins said.
Clark said doctors have told him something is affecting the left side of his brain, and he is currently on medication for the ailment.

All’s not fine at charity line
The Gophers are shooting 63 percent from the free throw line in their first four games (45-of-71). But take away Clark and Lewis’ combined 20-of-22, and the team is shooting 51 percent (25-of-49).
Kevin Nathaniel is just one of Minnesota’s free-throw offenders so far, going 8-of-14 from the line. But Nathaniel said he’s not worried about the early-season free-throw woes.
“The rhythm will come and we’ll start to make them,” he said. “All it takes is practice and more practice.”
Guard Mitch Ohnstad is 5-of-7 from the line so far, and he said he thinks he knows both what the problem is and how to correct it.
“I think some of it can be attributed to nervousness, they just need to relax,” he said. “It’s really a simple thing. It’s a 15-foot shot and you’re all alone.”

Second halves
After the 14-point comeback against Oregon and the 16-point rebound vs. Seton Hall last Tuesday, Haskins joked he “should just come out for second halves.”
But he offered some reasons that indicate he was more serious about that philosophy than one might think.
“In basketball, I’ve said it before, I really don’t panic as long as we’re within 10 or 12 points at the half,” Haskins said. “It never really seems to bother me, as long as I have my guys ready to play.”

Sore calves
Guard Terrance Simmons played only three minutes in the Oregon game, and only eight minutes in the Seton Hall game. But he played 23 minutes and 25 minutes in convincing wins over Appalachian State and Winthrop, respectively.
Haskins said Simmons’ lack of playing time in the close games is a result of his lack of confidence, as well as a sore calf that has been bothering the sophomore.
“Once Terrance gets his confidence back and his calf gets better,” Haskins said, “he’ll be able to show people the scorer he really is.”

Kudos to JUCOs
Clark, along with current Denver Nuggets guard Bobby Jackson and ex-Gopher Kim Zurcher, are the only junior college players Haskins has recruited to play for Minnesota.
Haskins said his coaching style is better suited for players who spend a full four years in the system, rather than the two years junior college players usually play. However, he’s not about to turn his back on a player just because of a little old policy.
“If you find a guy like Bobby Jackson or Kevin Clark we’ll take that guy,” Haskins said, “and change my philosophy quickly.”