IOWA CITY, Iowa – Jordan Bohannon and Brad Floy are joined at the hip.
Bohannon, Iowa’s sharpshooting senior guard, is coming back from a second hip surgery. And Floy, in his ninth full-time season as the head athletic trainer for the Hawkeye men’s basketball team, has helped drive Bohannon down the road to recovery.
Bohannon went to Twitter recently to give thanks. He called athletic trainers some of the most underappreciated people in sports, doing so much with little recognition. Bohannon also said he owes everything to Floy.
“He’s kept me moving these past four years when I didn’t think I could move anymore,” Bohannon said.
Those words touch on the importance of Floy to Iowa’s basketball program.
“That was really nice,” Floy said. “He’s a special young man. For him to think of that meant a lot to me, to just randomly throw out that public shout. Because we kind of get forgotten sometimes.”
But not always, as Iowa’s 2019-20 basketball season can attest.
“I was talking to my mom one day and she said, “I saw you on TV last night,’ ” Floy said. “That’s not good thing.”
Because Floy’s presence in front of a TV camera probably means he’s attending to an injured player. He was a busy man last season.
There was Bohannon’s hip, Jack Nunge’s torn anterior cruciate ligament and CJ Fredrick’s pair of ankle injuries for starters. Luka Garza also dealt with a few ankle injuries, and opponent elbows found his face on a regular basis.
“He just kept dropping numbers,” Floy said of the reigning Big Ten player of the year. “It didn’t matter who he faced or what injury he had or how sore he was. He just kept killing guys. It was impressive.”
Floy has learned to expect the unexpected. Like Jan. 12, when manager Luke Slavens went into cardiac arrest during a shooting drill.
“That’s the last thing you would expect,” Floy said. “We were doing a shooting drill. That’s usually when nobody gets hurt.”
There’s also been the coronavirus to deal with. Two players tested positive for COVID-19 on July 27, putting a pause on workouts for 14 days.
A native of Cherokee, Floy worked under legendary trainer John Streif as a graduate assistant while he got his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Iowa. He took a job at Fresno State and was there from 2008 to 2012. He returned to his alma mater for the 2012-13 season.
“You just have to rely on your training and your practice, and we’ve got a great staff of physicians around us,” he said. “I have my kit next to me, at every game and every practice. Anything can happen, so you’ve always got to be on your toes. But that keeps things exciting. It’s an enjoyable profession when you know you’re needed. There’s not a boring day around this place.”
Floy also said that he has a great working relationship with head coach Fran McCaffery.
“We have a great staff, starting with Fran,” Floy said. “They’re not trying to push guys. They’re trying to be patient and make sure that they’re healthy, they feel good and they’re ready to go before we put them back on the court. It makes my job more difficult when a coach tries to push them too fast too soon. And fortunately Fran is the opposite of that.”
Bohannon’s bond with Floy goes beyond his two hip surgeries. He played through painful plantar fasciitis as a sophomore. He played with great discomfort in his right hip as a junior. There’s also been an assortment of other aches and pains.
“He’s a small guy in a physical Big Ten league,” Floy said. “He’s had more than his fair share of injuries.”
Bohannon’s ability to play through pain has earned Floy’s respect.
“I told John Strief that pound for pound, (Bohannon’s) the toughest kid we’ve ever had come through our program,” Floy added.
Bohannon had surgery on his right hip after the 2018-19 season.
It was really tough on him come February and March,” Floy recalled. “He wasn’t practicing much. Just playing games was difficult for him.”
The recovery went well, and his right hip was at 100 percent. But the left hip started to bother him as the 2019-20 season started.
“He was like, “I don’t want to do that again,’ I want to have a healthy senior season,” Floy said. “So he tried to play to see if it would improve or his symptoms would get better, and they didn’t.”
Instead of grinding it out again, Bohannon elected to end his season after10 games, apply for a medical redshirt and undergo surgery. He went under the knife on Dec. 19. Doctor Robert Westermann did the surgery.
“He thought it looked worse than the first one, and trying to play on that the rest of the year would have been really difficult,” Floy said. “That helped Jordan a lot mentally, knowing he had made the right decision.”
In both cases, Bohannon had hip impingement, where the ball and socket joint was rubbing together like bone on bone. The friction creates a callus of sorts on the ball joint that pinches against the socket. The impingement can tear the lining of the joint, which increases the pain significantly. That happened in both of Bohannon’s hips.
There are several stages to the rehabilitation process. Bohannon went to his home in Marion and spent two weeks in his basement. He was not allowed to climb steps or drive.
Then work started on improving his range of motion, like climbing steps and walking without crutches. After that came some strength work, more range of motion, and functional things like jogging.
“He got up to pretty much full-speed jogging at four months,” Floy said. “Then it was live basketball at five months, like cutting, guarding all that stuff.”
When the team returned for voluntary workouts on campus starting June 15, Bohannon had been cleared for full activity.
“He looked good, his body looked good, and he moved well,” Floy said.
Nunge, who started at forward the first five games, suffered a season-ending ACL injury to his right knee Nov. 24 against Cal Poly. He had surgery Dec. 20 and hasn’t been cleared to play yet.
“It will be nine to 10 months for Jack,” Floy said. “ACLs are a lot longer process, because there’s the repair, the graft has to take and then to get the strength, the range, get the swelling down and there’s also the psychological component to that. Jack is doing well. He’s working hard in the weight room.”
Floy hopes that Nunge will be playing again, without restrictions, by October.
Fredrick missed six full games and the second half of two others because of a pair of foot injuries suffered against Penn State in Philadelphia, Pa., on Jan. 4 and at Indiana on Feb. 13. The first was a tendon strain, the second a sprained ankle.
And then on July 15, Fredrick had surgery to fixate a stress fracture in his right foot. A screw was inserted to his fifth metatarsal bone. He will be sidelined six weeks.
Fredrick was having soreness in his foot over the summer. He took five days off around the Fourth of July. He still had soreness the first day he returned to the court and an X-ray discovered the stress fracture.
“This was not related to anything he had previously,” Floy said.
Garza suffered a laceration against Texas Tech Nov. 28, but had three stitches and returned to the court. He also had a tooth injury at Iowa State.
“He was bleeding about every game,” Floy said. “There were points when I just wore gloves the whole second half.”
Garza also played through two ankle injuries. The first came at Syracuse Dec. 3.
“Three days later he dropped 44 points on Michigan,” Floy said.
He also injured an ankle in the early stages of a game at Minnesota Feb. 16. He missed practice the day before the Feb. 20 Ohio State game, but scored 24 points.
“You couldn’t keep him off the court,” Floy said.
Toughness seems to be a universal trait of the players on this Iowa team.
“It’s a good sign when you have guys on your team that want to try and play through stuff,” Floy said. “Or you’re having to pull the reigns back on them. Because it means they’re motivated and they want to work hard. They’re the easiest ones to work with.”