Fitch returns to the court

Bowling Green redshirt-sophomore Germain Fitch was just trying to mark his territory.

As an exciting, slashing freshman for the men?s basketball team in 2001-2002, Fitch showed signs of promise to make many in the BG basketball community think he could be part of a team that would forget about the Len Matelas, Keith McLeods and Brandon Pardons of the world.

Things haven?t quite worked out that way for Fitch and men?s coach Dan Dakich. A team that was thought to be among the contenders for the Mid-American Conference?s West Division last year, the Falcons were instead ravaged by injuries that left Dakich with only seven scholarship players, a walk-on and two football players at last season?s end.

Fitch was one of those injured players. In early December, Fitch suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in practice, ending his season.

But that was just the beginning for Fitch. This summer, after months of rehabilitation on that knee and thinking he was ready to get back on the floor, Fitch re-injured the same knee and required another reconstructive surgery.

?Doctors have basically told me it?s a year-and-a-half before you?re playing with a healthy ligament,? Dakich said. ?The physical part of rehabbing an injury like this is hard, but there?s an emotional part of it, too. Germain spent the entire [summer of his] sophomore year working really hard to be a full-time player, and that was taken away from him. That?s tough.?

Fitch returned to action Jan. 3 at home against Eastern Michigan, and in true Fitch fashion, marked his territory. He played 15 minutes against the Eagles, blocked two shots, grabbed two rebounds and engaged in a scuffle with EMU?s JaQuan Hart, earning him a technical foul.

Not a bad start to the season.

?I had to mark my territory,? he said. ?We don?t let anyone come into our house and push us around, so I had to do what I had to do. It felt real good to be out there [against Eastern Michigan]. We got a victory at home, and not playing in over a year. It was good to play with these guys in a game, who I haven?t played with in a long time.

?If I was tentative, I wouldn?t play,? he said.

Fitch played seven minutes against Ball State and seven again Saturday in a win over Northern Illinois. But the spark is there. Dakich said Fitch?s defense in practice is a key for his team?s preparation, and in games, Fitch is still perhaps the Falcons? best on-the-ball defender.

?Germain is as much of a basketball junkie as I know,? Dakich said. ?He?s now looking forward to all the things no one else looks forward to: conditioning, individual work … To do it (rehab) twice, and with the heart and the enthusiasm he?s done it with is remarkable really.?

?It?s been really hard, nothing but rehab,? Fitch said. ?Once, twice a day, seven days a week, for that whole time period. It was very disappointing to go through it again. I came back this summer, but I had to go through it again … it hurt my confidence. But I knew if I went through it once, I could do it again. I got nothing but positive support from everybody. Everyone?s been looking forward to me coming back, which gave me a lot more confidence.?