Aug. 13, 2012
PARIS -- Like his teammates, Malcolm Brogdon has over the past week toured the canals of Amsterdam by boat, traipsed the cobblestone streets of Bruges and Antwerp, and marveled at the Arc de Triomphe and the Notre Dame Cathedral and the statues of Thomas Jefferson, Joan of Arc, Ben Franklin and Winston Churchill in this city.
Unlike his teammates, Brogdon has not suited up for games during the University of Virginia men's basketball team's tour of Europe. A sophomore from the Atlanta area, Brogdon hasn't played for UVa since Feb. 25, when he scored four points against North Carolina at John Paul Jones Arena.
Less than two weeks later, in Charlotte, N.C., Dr. Robert Anderson repaired a broken bone in Brogdon's left foot. Virginia's sixth man for most of last season, Brogdon is still recovering from the operation. That he would be a spectator in Europe was determined by his medical team months ago, but that doesn't mean the 6-5 guard enjoys sitting out these games.
"It's frustrating to watch them play," Brogdon said Tuesday afternoon, "but at the same time I've got to put my team before myself and support them while they're out there. I need to use what I am doing, which is observing, for the team. This is a chance for me to establish myself vocally when I'm not on the court."
At first, Brogdon acknowledged, the knowledge that he faced a long rehabilitation discouraged him, "but I've used it as my strength and not my weakness. I think it's a maturity thing to realize that this can help me in the long run, for basketball and just as a person, and that's what I've chosen to do with it."
Virginia, which went 1-1 in the Netherlands and then lost Saturday night in Belgium, will play two more games before returning to the United States on Thursday. The first is tonight at 8:30 local time -- 2:30 p.m. Eastern -- against AMW Team France.
On Tuesday morning, while many of his teammates slept, Brogdon was up early to work out with strength-and-conditioning coach Mike Curtis in the team hotel's tiny fitness center. Such sessions have not occurred as frequently in Europe as either would like.
The team's itinerary has made finding time each day to train a challenge, Brogdon said, "and then the other difficulty is finding the right equipment in these weight rooms in the hotels. But Coach Curtis is the best at what he does, so he finds ways and we get good workouts in."
Brogdon, who averaged 6.7 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists as a UVa freshman, said his foot is "feeling good," and his workload has slowly increased in recent weeks.
"That's basically just because my foot is feeling less sore every day," he said, "and as long as the pain is going down, that means I'm making progress and I can keep going and push it even more."
The Wahoos took a bus tour of Paris on Tuesday morning, but the players have spent hours on their feet most days in Europe.
"The walking has been tough," Brogdon said. "It's definitely been tough. It's challenged my foot. It's made it sore, but in a good way, and it's made it a lot stronger, and it's helping my process."
That said, Brogdon can do without any more cobblestone streets, however picturesque they may be.
"Those are tough," he said with a smile. "Those are really tough."
Brogdon hasn't been cleared yet to jog, but he's confident that day is imminent. "I can almost jog at this point," he said. "I'm almost trotting."
He's scheduled to meet this month with Dr. Anderson, who'll check to see if Brogdon's foot is still healing properly. In the meantime, Brogdon will continue to work on polishing his ballhandling skills and improving the mechanics of his shot.
When he returns to the court, Brogdon will be an option for the Cavaliers at point guard, and so he's trying to get better at that position without actually playing, as difficult as it may be to do so.
"I feel like one of the biggest things of being a point guard is knowing your teammates' skill sets," Brogdon said, "and by watching, like what I'm doing, I'm beginning to learn all their skill sets, and I'm just watching them over and over, their strengths and weaknesses, and how I can play to them."
A close friend of Brogdon's family, Ron Aubert, has been traveling with the 'Hoos in Europe. That's made the tour more special for Brogdon, who previously has visited such countries as Australia, South Africa, Malawi, Ghana, England, Costa Rica and Mexico.
He'd been to the southern part of France before this trip, but this is Brogdon's first visit to Paris, and the City of Light has blown him away.
"I didn't actually know Paris would be this beautiful," he said.