GLENDALE, AZ – Believe it or not, Joel Berry woke up Sunday morning feeling a lot better than he expected after playing 35 minutes in Saturday night’s victory over Oregon.
The win lifted the Tar Heels to Monday night’s national championship game against Gonzaga, so how the junior point guard was feeling Sunday was rather important news.
But it’s not old news.
Berry’s ankles have been the source of tremendous interest since he landed awkwardly 16 days ago, and remains so.
So, how was he Sunday morning?
“I actually feel better,” Berry said Sunday afternoon at University of Phoenix Stadium. “I woke up this morning and didn't have any stiffness. That was my biggest worry. And I was able to get right up out of bed and just walk normally.”
Teammate Theo Pinson joked that Berry tripped over a game controller, and even if it did happen, and Pinson is known to playfully jab at his teammates, Berry was feeling no effects by mid-afternoon.
“They're feeling pretty good,” Berry said. “And we have all day to rest, and I know we have practice and everything, but we got the rest of the day to be able to do some rehab. And we already started this morning. So anything that I do will just help a little bit more.”
Berry didn’t participate much in Sunday’s practice, but that’s been pretty typical for much of the last few weeks.
He originally sprained his left ankle in a win over Radford in December and missed victories over Davidson and Tennessee. He injured his right ankle in a win over Texas Southern in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, aggravated it a couple of times and then re-injured the left ankle early in the South Region championship game victory over Kentucky.
Berry said Friday he was at around 85 percent, but after Saturday’s 77-76 win over Oregon in the national semifinals he was it was more like 65 percent.
The Apopka, FL, native didn’t offer a percentage Sunday, but he was confident he would play and be healthier than he was versus the Ducks.