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Falcon basketball player returns after last season’s injury

October 19, 2016

Some may respond to injuries by feeling sorry for the themselves, but in Matthew Timlin’s case, it only has inspired him for another exciting season of UW-River Falls men’s basketball.

Timlin is a sophomore guard from Denver, Colorado, who is entering his third year as part of the program. After seeing significant time on the court his freshman season, Timlin said he had high hopes for his second season with the team.

“I was expecting to at least come off the bench my freshman year but I was actually out the first two weeks of my freshman year because I hurt my knee during the dunk contest, which was stupid,” Timlin said. “So I basically played on the injury all year, but I averaged about 16 minutes a game my freshman year so wherever they needed me I would fill in that role.”

Timlin shot about 40 percent from the three-point line and averaged 6.1 points per game in his freshman campaign.

Head Coach Jeff Berkhof said he came away very impressed with Timlin’s first season as a Falcon.

“Matt did a nice job of playing off guard and point guard his freshman year and shot the ball well at end of the year. He also played on a leg and a half pretty much the whole year so I’m not sure if we’ve seen a healthy Matt yet,” Berkhof said.

Before his sophomore season could get underway, Timlin ended up tearing his patella tendon, which is different from the usual ligament damage seen in knee injuries. He said that the road to recovery was also a lot more complicated than he originally expected.

“When I was first injured I got a plasma shot to try to heal it itself. But when I got dismissed from rehab that same week I went and tore it,” Timlin said. “As soon as I tore it, I was like, ‘I’ll go and make the rehab and it’ll be fine.’”

The process may have seemed simple in theory, but as time has worn on Timlin has seen the positive and negative aspects of his recovery.

“As I look at it now I’m happy I tore my knee because it’s better than it was before, but at the same time, the rehab process is awful. Right now I’m still doing just post-rehab stuff so it’s been about 14 months so far [of recovery time],” Timlin said.

Going through a process of that length would test anyone mentally, and maybe make them lose sight of the end goal, but Timlin has taken his injury in stride and used it to grow as a basketball player and as a person.

“It was hard because I wanted to be part of every practice, or at least watch it, but when you’re sitting on the bench you watch everybody and see how they react and you learn more about your teammates. You also learn more about what your coach is like and your relationships get better,” Timlin said.

Berkhof also said he thinks the injury could have a positive influence on Timlin for this season. He described how he thinks Timlin’s time on the bench will help him moving forward by allowing him to see what works and what doesn’t on the basketball court.

This positive outlook is fuel for what is expected to be a strong campaign for Falcon basketball. The team lost key contributors from last season, but seems to have a good balance of new players, experienced players and transfers to create a team poised for a WIAC title.

Berkhof and Timlin both said they’re excited about the Falcons’ prospects coming off of a 17-11 season that saw UWRF fall only three points short of a conference title. Practice may have only started Monday, but the team already knows what kind of style of play they want to enforce.

“We’re gonna be running and a lot of [our offense] will be off of assists and teamwork rather than individual work, so it’ll be a good year,” Timlin said.

Berkhof also has plans for his new squad, which he said he expects to benefit from a new influx of players coupled with the returning players.

“We have our style of play we like to do. We want to be up tempo on offense, run power motion in half-court, play with toughness on defense and contest shots,” Berkhof said.

The team is also expecting transfers Clay Seifert from Bemidji State and Alex Herink from Mankato State to add some former Div. II experience to an already deep Falcon squad. Berkhof was very high on all of his incoming freshman, but especially his two seniors.

“We have two seniors (Garret Pearson and Grant Erickson) who play two important positions in our starting point guard and our starting center who are all conference type players. They’re both very hungry and have come close so they want to go out on a big note,” Berkhof said.

The Falcons will start off their year with a high level of competition in their opening weeks. After an exhibition game against Div. II University of Minnesota Duluth on Nov. 5, the Falcons will travel to St. Thomas to take on the defending national champion Tommies in their season opener. If UWRF can make a big splash early, they will definitely be a team to watch out for in the WIAC.

No matter the case, Timlin is finally ready to be back on the court. His play and outlook have also matured a lot since his freshman year.

“This year I want to be a team player rather than worrying about myself too much. As a freshman, you’re trying to gain everybody’s trust and get along with everyone, but now you can build with them and help everyone else with the new guys. This is an all-team atmosphere and trusting the system is huge,” Timlin said.

Timlin’s attitude and play should be a key contribution to the Falcons this season. With a new look team and a deep roster, this is one team to not be counted out this winter.