The whole point of Stone Gettings joining the Arizona Wildcats as a graduate transfer was for him to put his skills to use at a higher level of competition than he’d faced for three seasons in the Ivy League. But karma can be a fickle bitch, as Gettings discovered in late November.
Facing Penn, a team he took on six times with Cornell, Gettings was in position to score on the baseline when his senior year took a major turn for the worse.
“I remember I got smacked pretty hard and I got a turnover,” he said Wednesday of the collision that resulted in a fractured cheekbone and a concussion, sidelining him for the rest of that game and five more after that. “That was about it. I tried to shake it off and ran back on defense. You get hit all the time, as a big especially. After the game you kind of feel it more as time goes on.”
By the end of that night, which saw Arizona beat Penn 92-82 in the Wooden Legacy semifinals in Anaheim, Gettings said his eyes had “swelled up” and he felt foggy in the head. It was a feeling he’d experienced before, following a summer workout between his freshman and sophomore seasons at Cornell.
“It was my second concussion,” he said. “I was trying to just push through but it’s one of those things that you can’t really push through. It’s not like a sprained ankle, you just have to give your body time.”
Not only did Gettings miss Arizona’s next five contests, which included close losses to Baylor, Gonzaga and St. John’s, for much of that time he couldn’t even be with the team because of post-concussion symptoms that included sensitivity to noise and light.
That was incredibly frustrating to Gettings, who considers himself a very competitive person.
“I came here to make the most of my last year, but you can’t really do much sitting in a dark room recovering from a concussion,” he said. “Obviously I want to be out there every single game. I’m glad that’s behind me, now I’m back to full health and full strength.”
Gettings made his return to action on Jan. 3 in the Pac-12 opener against ASU, contributing five points, five rebounds and an assist in 17 minutes. He also hit a three-pointer, his first make from deep since Nov. 14
He said there were no jitters about getting hit again against ASU, mostly because he’d had extra time to prepare for his return once he was cleared to play.
“I got really lucky,” he said. “Right around the time I was finally healthy it was right after that St. John’s game so I really had two weeks to get back to full strength. It was not like I was playing a day after I was cleared. So that allowed me to play around and get used to being physical and making contact and getting hit.”
Though only averaging 4.8 points and 2.7 rebounds in 14.8 minutes per game, far below his sophomore and junior year averages at Cornell, Gettings isn’t concerned about how much he’s getting to play or how much he’s getting the ball. He said he understands his role and is just happy to be in it again.
“I’m just trying to take advantage of mismatches on the floor,” he said. “If I’m not going to get the rebound then maybe smack my guy, clear some space for someone else to get the rebound.”