Feb 262008
 
Authors: Sean Star

‘The kid with the knee brace’ makes an n

At this time last year, like many other students, David Cohen balanced his time between schoolwork and skiing.

And like many others, Cohen thought the life of a student-athlete wasn’t all that difficult.

Oh, how things have changed since October.

After reading a story about open tryouts for the men’s basketball team in October, Cohen decided to try his luck. Despite not playing organized basketball since his senior year of high school in 2004, Cohen made the team.

The senior business major credits his high school coaching as the reason why he stood out among the 60 hopefuls who tired out.

Men’s coach Tim Miles recalls Cohen’s tryout slightly differently.

“I remember thinking ‘the kid with the knee brace looks like a pretty good athlete,'” Miles said.

Cohen wears a brace on his left knee after tearing his ACL twice in high school, adding yet another obstacle the walk-on has had to hurdle this season.

And as it turns out, the kid with the knee brace was not only a good athlete, but a pretty good basketball player too.

Entering tonight’s matchup against rival Wyoming, Cohen has seen his playing time increase significantly in the past three weeks. He scored a career-high 12 points in his first start at Texas Christian last week and is averaging four points in the Rams’ last six games.

With CSU still searching for its first conference victory of the year, Miles says Cohen’s story has been a refreshing twist in an otherwise disappointing season.

“To be able to coach a guy like Dave is very fulfilling,” Miles said. “That’s what it’s all about: guys taking an advantage of an opportunity.”

And don’t think that Miles has been giving Cohen playing time simply because he’s a walk-on who hustles. The first-year coach says Cohen has earned every minute of playing time because of the impact he makes with his poise- something that has improved vastly since his first game in November.

“I remember the ball just flying out of his hand versus Oregon State and thinking ‘oh man,'” Miles said.

Cohen says it took about two and a half months for him to fully adjust to the fast pace of Division-I basketball, a process he says “took a lot longer than I though it was going to.”

Though he has just recently become accustomed life on the court, Cohen continues to get used to his new life off the court.

As he puts it: “You don’t want to go home and study after you’ve played hard all day.”

The transition, Cohen says, has provided him with a new appreciation of student athletes and their need for time management.

“I didn’t think it was as hard as it is-especially traveling,” he said.

When Cohen’s not studying or playing ball, he likes to spend time with his roommates.

And like most guys his age, athletes or not, Cohen “is happiest when he’s eating,” says teammate and fellow walk-on Josh McGinley.

Tonight Cohen is simply hungry for one thing: a win.

As reserve shooting guard, Cohen will be asked to help defend Wyoming’s talented backcourt tandem of Brad Jones and Brandon Ewing. Together, Jones and Ewing average 29.5 points per game.

Regardless, Cohen likes his team’s chances.

“We’re gonna give it everything we got,” he said. “I think we’ll come out on top.”

Sports Editor Sean Star can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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