Late in the second half of the Ramblers’ Nov. 30 game against Norfolk State University, Loyola junior guard Donte Ingram silenced Gentile Arena when he went down with a knee injury. The training staff tended to Ingram just steps from where first-year forward Matt Chastain tore his ACL in the previous home game.
When Ingram went down, he said he didn’t know what to expect, as he had never been injured in a game before.
“It was my first injury, so I didn’t know how long I’d be sitting out or what the diagnosis was,” Ingram said. “When I found out [what the injury was], I was happy because it could have been a lot worse.”
Spectators feared Ingram had torn his ACL, but later the Loyola athletics department reported that Ingram only sustained a sprained MCL. Ingram was originally expected to be out four to six weeks, but he recovered from the injury quicker than than the team thought, and two weeks later, he was back on the court in the starting lineup against the University of Illinois – Chicago (UIC) on Dec. 17.
Head coach Porter Moser said Ingram had been cleared by multiple doctors, and he had practiced before the UIC game.
“I don’t pretend to be a doctor,” said Moser. “[The doctors] told me he could go, and I just put him right back in the lineup. That’s where he was before he got hurt.”
Ingram, a Chicago native, said he had a feeling he wouldn’t be out for as long as the doctors told him he would be.
“I knew a couple days after that I wasn’t going to be out four to six weeks,” Ingram said. “We came in after the San Diego State game, and [the doctor] said it looked pretty good.”
The Ramblers managed to win all three games Ingram missed, but they got out-rebounded a combined 97-80. Ingram was leading the team with 5.6 rebounds per game prior to his injury, so the Ramblers felt the impact of his absence.
In the seven games since his return, Ingram has averaged 17.1 points per game and scored in double digits six times. Before getting hurt, he only managed that feat four times in the first eight games.
Moser said Ingram’s determination has been the key to his success following his return.
“He’s playing with a lot of confidence,” Moser said. “He’s not forcing things [and is] letting things come.”
Not only is Ingram scoring well, but his rebounding ability is also better than average. He has averaged 7.7 rebounds per game since coming back, including two double-doubles against conference foes Drake University and the University of Northern Iowa.
Junior Aundre Jackson
said he’s happy Ingram is back in the lineup and pointed out that he still managed to make a difference while he was hurt.
“When he came back, we turned up to a whole [new] level,” Jackson said. “[His] being on the sidelines and … being a team leader while he was out helped us a lot.”
The Ramblers are scheduled to be back in action on Jan. 18 when they travel to the University of Northern Iowa. Loyola will return home to host the University of Evansville on Jan. 21.