Men's basketball | How Ohio State will attempt to fix C.J. Jackson's cramping issues

Adam Jardy
Ohio State Buckeyes guard C.J. Jackson (3) shoots a foul shot during a men's basketball game between Ohio State and UNC Pembroke at Value City Arena on Thursday, November 1, 2018. [Fred Squillante]

There’s no guarantee that a healthy C.J. Jackson would have brought an Ohio State win against Michigan State. But there also doesn’t appear to be any way of knowing whether the leg-cramping issues that stymied the senior guard Saturday during the second half of an 86-77 loss can be prevented.

The hope is a plan that Jackson follows daily and was developed with the team’s medical staff will eliminate the problem.

“There is medication that he takes,” coach Chris Holtmann said Tuesday. “Jeff Deits, our trainer, has a game-day routine since last year that he has with him, beginning with first thing in the morning. We hope that we won’t see this happen again, but he definitely has a routine that he goes through with our medical staff.”

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The issue isn’t new. Jackson dealt with leg cramps throughout his junior season, and they became more pronounced over time. Holtmann initially made light of it the first time it happened, joking that he would have to make sure the junior was properly hydrating himself, but he changed his tone as the issue persisted.

During Big Ten media day in October, Jackson was asked if he had answers.

“Still a work in progress,” he said. “I met with the trainers. We worked on my diet. I do these things every week to make sure I’m getting the right nutrients and the right foods that I need to be eating. I’m eating a lot more frequent now so it’s going well. I was able to put on some weight as well.”

Will the weight help?

“I hope so,” he said.

Does he have some sort of medical condition that makes him more predisposed to cramping?

“I’m not sure,” he said.

How frustrating was it to deal with that year?

“At the time it was frustrating because I wasn’t able to finish games at times and be out there with my team and play the game that I love, which was the biggest thing,” he said. “Now that I’ve taken a step back to see what it can be, because at the time the season was just going and going and we didn’t have time to look into it. I think it will definitely be a lot better.”

Jackson concluded by saying he “hopefully” had a handle on the issue, adding, “We’ll see.”

Although he dealt with cramping last season and was occasionally able to stay in games, Jackson said Saturday was the worst he has experienced. The impact was glaring: After putting up 10 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals with no turnovers in 19 first-half minutes, he had one steal and two fouls in nine second-half minutes.

Holtmann said he probably should not have had Jackson on the court for some key late possessions. He switched off Michigan State’s Cassius Winston, for example, leaving the job to freshman Duane Washington Jr., who was immediately scored upon.

“C.J., I was trying to err on the side of giving him a chance,” Holtmann said. “It didn’t necessarily hurt us (as much) offensively as it hurt us defensively because he was so good in the first half defensively and then we had to try to hide him when he came in during the latter parts of the second half and that ended up hurting our team.”

Holtmann said limiting his first-half minutes to keep him available for the second isn’t necessarily a solution.

“I’ve talked with our medical staff and I don’t know that that is the answer in this,” he said. “We’ve talked about that and they’ve not suggested that would be the answer. It may be something I revisit with them and we’ll see.”


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