‘Caner-Medley’s Corner’- The long trip back from injury

For the second edition of “Caner-Medley’s Corner,” Nik tells us what it’s like coming back from an injury to a team on which he has taken a leadership role. He also gives us a glimpse into the nervousness and “jitters” that he still gets before playing, even after more than a decade of playing elite level basketball:
“Back At It:
How long does it take to get to Russia??!!”
I think I heard that question 20 times when I was recently at home getting rehab on my back from two fractured transverse process bones.
Let me tell you like this… I left out of Boston and took a 9 hour flight to Istanbul, had a 4 hour layover, followed by a 5 hour flight to my temporary hometown of Astana.
I arrived at 4 am to a text message from my coach telling me to get some rest and come in for some light shooting to sweat out the long trip in the evening.

One thing I take pride in from my roots of being from Maine where we value hard work and excuse-free living is embodying those traits.

Caner-Medley driving the lane.

Caner-Medley driving the lane.

I sent a text back to my coach saying I had the last 7 weeks to rest I’ll be there at 10am. He replied with a laugh, knowing how I operate, and said, “great to have you back!”
It was really cool for me when I came in and saw my teammates. I have taken the leadership role with this group and at times that means I have to dig up in their comfort zone and tell them things that may not be dinner table talk.
With that being said, the reception I got from them made me feel really good, they seemed genuinely excited to have me back and that type of respect means the world to me.
The first few days back on the court have been a step by step process. I missed a total of 2 months, and although I trained hard with my guy Andy Barris at PHIT360, getting back into 5 on 5 is a different ball game.
It will take me a few weeks to get my legs under me and find a game speed rhythm.
The coaching staff here is relatively common sense oriented which isn’t always the case playing overseas. There are some coaches that would have wanted me to play a game straight off the plane, but they started me this week with 1 on 1 drills and slowly building up to 3 on 3, ect.
Today, (friday) will be my first day joining the team in a regular 5 on 5 typical in-season practice.
We generally practice for around 90 mins, mixing drills with opponent scouting 5 on 5, and scrimmage working on our sets. I’m really excited to get back in the mix.

It’s funny, I have been playing at a really high level for over 10 years since I went to University of Maryland, and I love this game so much that I still get first date jitters when I get back on the court after being away.

Nik Caner-Medley at the University of Maryland.

Nik Caner-Medley at the University of Maryland.

I was up at 7 am with wiggle feet in the bed, and we don’t practice until 5 tonight.
My goal is to play in our game this coming Tuesday. It is an important game for us in the Eurochallenge, which is a composition of some of the top teams in Europe.
I am cautiously optimistic, understanding that I may not be “ready”, but you better believe when I step on that court I’ll be at least mentally ready to do what I can do to help us get the “W”.
The trainers are telling me to wait until after Christmas to return, I wish them luck with that one! Haha.
Until next week, keep me in your prayers, I have always used the love and support from you, my friends and family to drive me in a way words can’t explain! Thank you!!”
Once Nik returns to the court, we’ll have some full game films to share, but for now here are some highlights from Astana’s game against Enisey on Dec. 6:
Chris Shorr

About Chris Shorr

Chris is a sixth generation Portlander who loves all things Maine. He has worked with mentally ill and marginalized adults at a Portland non-profit, on a lobster boat in Casco Bay, at several high-end Portland restaurants, and at a local meat packing plant. He also ran for Portland City Council in 2013, wrote a weekly column in the now defunct Portland Daily Sun, and currently writes a weekly column in The Portland Phoenix.