Last October, men’s basketball’s Joe Quintana went down with an ACL injury. He had torn the ligament, a devastating blow that would sideline him for the entirety of the 2019-2020 season. A couple weeks later, another key member of the Lions’ squad, Dameane Douglas, would also suffer a season-ending injury in the runup to LMU’s opening game of the season. Douglas, a redshirt sophomore guard coming off an impressive freshman season at the time, dislocated his ankle and was forced to sit out his entire second season. The past year for this duo has represented a time of recovery and a long journey back from injury.
“I mean I was definitely devastated just because I had been working so hard with my teammates just to prepare for the year,” Douglas described on the emotions involved with the injury. He continued, “Definitely in shock and sad, disappointed. But then it just became 'okay, what’s the next thing,' and I just became like a cheerleader for my teammates.”
Quintana shared a similar sentiment in dealing with the initial outlook of his injury. “I think I was really hurt and angry,” said Quintana. “But after looking on about it and seeing what I had to go through I think it was a blessing in disguise. In that moment I was definitely really upset just because I knew it was going to be a big junior year for me and for the team. And then just to have that taken away so quick really hurt.”
Both Douglas and Quintana were primed for big seasons last year. Quintana was likely going to be a starting guard – picking up more responsibility in the team’s composition as a scorer and facilitator. As a sophomore, Quintana put up several promising performances, emerging as a solid perimeter shooter and defender.
Douglas was similarly poised to breakthrough after a stellar freshman year on the Bluff. In his first year with the program Douglas started 22 games, averaging over 8 points and 4 rebounds per game. His efforts earned him a place on the 2018-19 West Coast Conference (WCC) All-Freshman team.
Having both their seasons derailed by injury, both guards began their respective roads back to the court. According to Quintana, both he and Douglas spent a lot of time rehabbing together on campus. Facing similar challenges, the duo bonded over the recovery process.
“I mean, we connected through the process,” said Quintana on facing the same adversity as Douglas. “We knew we would both be back stronger. We really just pushed each other the whole way because we did our PT the same day every time. We got to spend a lot of time together and get close just from doing that. I think that kind of built our relationship in disguise.”
Douglas eventually returned home later in the school year to further rehab in his hometown of Hanford, California. He worked with a physical therapist and a weights coach five days a week and practiced shooting the ball every day with his dad. This routine lasted 4-5 months until the guard returned to L.A. about 80-90% back to normal, according to his own estimates.
Suffering an ACL injury, Quintana faced a steep climb to get his leg back to full health. He had to spend about a month after the injury trying to strengthen his quad before surgery. After surgery, he was unable to walk for at least three weeks. Quintana said the process was like starting over as he was initially unable to lift his leg or even keep it straight. The recovery involved him regaining the muscle in his left leg and relearning its motions.
After a long year off, both athletes now prepare to take the floor once again. A new coaching staff has arrived, but both players carry similar expectations as last preseason. Looking to pick up where they left off, both guards have set high bars for themselves and their team heading into the 2020-2021 season.
On his goals for this season, Douglas stated, “As a team, we definitely want to win the WCC tournament this year and we want to be the best team in the WCC conference. Personally, I want to be the best two-way player in the league and in the nation. A goal I have for myself is to be the defensive player of the year in our conference. Definitely want to shoot the three at a high percentage and just be a force on both sides of the ball.”
Quintana shared similar ambitions to Douglas in serving his team as a highly competitive two-way guard. “A couple goals of mine are to hopefully lead the league in assists and getting my teammates as many shots as possible," said Quintana. “[And] being one of the best defenders, just because defense always leads to a better offense. Being one of the top guards at defending would be a big goal of mine also.”
The long wait to return to competitive play is now nearly over for this duo. Their season will tip off this Wednesday in Gersten Pavilion against Southern Utah University.