Fordham head coach Tom Pecora was hoping that Ryan Canty would have a healthy and productive offseason, putting the 6'9" center in position to have a big senior year.
Canty was obviously hoping for the same.
But a back injury that Canty has had to deal with for the entire time he's been at Fordham has worsened, and now he'll have to have back surgery and will be out for a few months.
"The back pain is pretty bad right now," Canty told Bleacher Report on Saturday, two days after the school announced that he'd be out indefinitely. "Hopefully the surgery gets it out of the way."
Pecora said that the surgery was the last thing anyone wanted. But it became clear over time that the pain wasn't going to be manageable any longer, and surgery was the only option.
"Like we always do, we exhaust every option prior to putting someone under the knife," Pecora said. "This isn't an ACL where it's automatic [that] you have to get [it] done."
"We feel comfortable with him going into the operation, as he does and his family does, knowing that we've exhausted every other option," Pecora added.
The best-case scenario here is that the surgery takes care of the issues and that Canty is able to play consistently at a high level.
"It had been here from day one," Pecora said about the back pain. "Back issues are very commonplace with the bigger guys on basketball teams. It's just to what extent and to what extreme they are."
"This has been something that's kind of been chronic," Pecora added. "That's one of the reasons why I think he's been up and down. He's gone stretches where he hasn't been able to practice [the] day after games. All of that carries into it."
Pecora told Bleacher Report that the surgery would take place close to Canty's home in Massachusetts, and that it would be performed by the Boston Celtics' team doctor.
"If they go in there and things aren't worse than they anticipate, we're hoping that he'll be back [after] a three-month rehab," Pecora said, which means a December return.
"He goes into it in great physical condition," he added. "He's done a great job actually taking weight off and getting himself in great shape prior to going into the operation.
"These things are out of your control. All you can do is handle them the best way—not only by having the best surgeons working on him but also his mindset going into rehab."
Canty, who missed six games early on in the 2013-14 season, came on strong at the end. He'd been working hard getting ready for his senior season, and the Rams were counting on his leadership and production.
"I had a great offseason," Canty said. "When they told me I had to have surgery, that just wasn't good news."
"It won't sink in probably until the first game comes and I'm not playing," he added.
Canty is optimistic that he can make a full recovery and get back out on the court.
"I was never 100 percent, but it was manageable," he said about playing through the pain, a testament to how tough a kid this is. "I was just fighting through the pain every practice. It was tough. In the games, the adrenaline's going, so that kind of helped."
"Hopefully I get the surgery and I'm stronger [and better] than I was before," Canty added.
Down the stretch last season, Canty came alive, grabbing 10 or more rebounds in five of the Rams' final six games, including 19 against George Mason in the play-in game of the Atlantic 10 tournament. Fordham got a glimpse of what could be.
"He came on strong last year," Pecora said. "In that sense, we were counting on him... He'll still have a very positive effect being around the team in the locker room and being with us everyday in practice."
Pecora is also confident that Canty can make a full recovery.
"This isn't a scenario where he's having it done in December, where you say 'that's the year,'" he said. "Those kind of decisions will be made after his rehab. If you look at a mid-December date, you're still looking at playing at least 25 basketball games. I think he can still have a great senior season."
Asked if he felt the team would be alright without one of its best players, Pecora said it'll have to be.
"I have no choice," he said. "We've got to be alright. We move forward making those kind of adjustments."
Quotations in this article were obtained firsthand.
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