“He can sing that whole ‘Merry Go Round' song,” Brown said referring to country singer Kacey Musgraves' recent single. “He knows that well because it seemed like every time we were in the car going to Dr. (Brock) Schnebel's office or the orthotic's office or going to do rehab, that song was always on. We were on a merry-go-round for the last three or four weeks.”
And Brown quickly learned that Hield fit the motto that Brown has used for a long time: Pain is an opinion.
“Buddy had a low opinion of pain from the very beginning,” Brown said. “In fact, his word from pain is ting. He'd always say, ‘I have no ting.'”
Hield never asked for a Tylenol, but in the days immediately following surgery, Brown made sure he took some.
Brown and Hield began to work through the “tings” with water therapy and strength conditioning. Through his recovery, Hield became a bit of everything to the team — a manager, a cheerleader, a coach — and they, in return, helped him.
“Buddy was doing whatever he could do to help even when he was on crutches, then when he was in a boot and then once he got into the shoe and couldn't play yet,” Brown said. “He was doing whatever he could do to help everybody all that time.”
Brown's biggest hurdle with Hield was slowing him down so he wouldn't push himself to recover too quickly, not allowing the break to completely heal.
Schnebel referred to Hield's recovery like one would bake a cake.
“We don't want to take it out of the oven to soon, or it won't be done,' Brown said Schnebel told Hield.
“We had a nice oven,” Brown said with a smile, “And it worked perfectly.”
From that first media interview, Hield proclaimed he'd be back sooner than the prescribed four to six weeks.
“I'll be back in three,” he said.
One week out from his surgery, he told Brown and Schnebel, too.
“I'm going to play in the West Virginia game,” Hield said. “God already told me.”
“Good,” Schnebel told him. “That's where I get my information from, too.”
* * *
March 6 was the West Virginia game. It came exactly three weeks exactly after Hield underwent surgery.
With just over 10 minutes remaining in the first half, Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger made a substitution. True to his word, Hield entered the game.
Earlier this week during practice, Hield got entangled in his teammates as he aggressively went after the ball. He ended up hopping out of the pile much like he did after breaking the bone in his foot. He immediately got taped up by Brown, who then delivered the news with a smile to Kruger and the media.
“Don't worry,” Brown said. “Buddy sprained the ankle on his other foot.”
The injury was nothing serious, and Hield said after practice that he felt fine, but it did slightly scare him when he couldn't put pressure.
On Friday, the freshman will play in his first NCAA Tournament game. His energy and confidence could be the difference Oklahoma needs to start off the Big Dance with a victory — and he promised earlier this week that come tournament time, his shots from beyond the arc would fall.
So it seems all that remains between the healer and Hield is to add one more face to the poster of emotions, right above the words: Fired up.
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