Despite a sore ankle, Rob Brandenberg scored 11 critical points for VCU Thursday.

AKRON, Ohio – Sophomore Rob Brandenberg rolled his left ankle in practice Wednesday, and his status, although not publicly released, was up in the air prior to Thursday’s 76-75 win at Akron.

It was an important game for both Brandenberg and VCU. The Rams’ shooting guard is from Gahanna, Ohio, about two hours from Akron, and a large contingent of friends and family would be in attendance. Meanwhile, VCU was playing a tough road game in a packed arena. If Brandenberg couldn’t play or would be severely restricted, it would be a significant setback for the Rams.

Although he did not start, Brandenberg played 23 critical minutes and provided several key buckets to spark the VCU win. He finished with 11 points and hit 4-of-6 shots from the field. A 6-foot-3 guard, Brandenberg could be seen wincing on occasion, but his play did not look like that of a guy with a bum wheel.

It turns out was a good reason for that.

VCU’s strength and training staffs have, of late, subscribed to the treatments of Dick Hartzell and Dr. Michael Shimmel, who co-authored “Don’t Ice That Ankle Sprain!”. Hartzell and Shimmel write, in part, that icing an ankle actually impedes the healing process. Instead, they use a series of stretches and range of motion exercises with an elastic stretch band, which they claim greatly reduce recovery time. When Darius Theus rolled an ankle earlier this season, the Rams’ training staff used those methods at halftime to get Theus back in the game.

Hartzell is a Youngstown, Ohio native, while Shimmel resides in Stow, just miles from the University of Akron campus. VCU Strenght and Conditioning Coach Daniel Roose remembered that the duo were Northeast Ohio natives and managed to contact Shimmel Wednesday night via e-mail. Shimmel volunteered to come to VCU’s hotel Thursday to run Brandenberg through an hour’s worth of treatments prior to the Rams’ game, free of charge. The rest is history, and there will probably be a VCU sweatshirt in Shimmel’s mailbox in the near future.

When I caught up with Brandenberg after Thursday’s game, he confirmed that Shimmel’s work allowed him to get back into playing condition.

“It definitely made a difference,” Brandenberg said.

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