Mustang Men’s Basketball Summer Journal Series: Chris O’Brien

Mustang Men’s Basketball Summer Journal Series: Chris O’Brien


Senior guard Chris O'Brien, who missed the 2011-12 campaign after suffering a preseason injury, checks in July 17 with the latest entry from the Cal Poly men's basketball program's summer journal series. After transferring from San Francisco and redshirting his first year on campus, O'Brien started 26 of 30 games as a junior during the 2010-11 season and led the Mustangs with an 80.6 percent free throw figure and a 1.53-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. A native of Irvine, Calif., O'Brien returns as a senior for the Mustangs this year.

Overall, Cal Poly is expected to return two starters and six letterwinners from last year's squad that reached the Big West Conference Tournament semifinals and won 18 games – the second-highest total during the program's Division I tenure. One of the NCAA's top defensive programs during the previous two years, Cal Poly finished the 2011-12 season ranked sixth nationally in opponent rebounds per game (29.1) and 24th in opponent points per game (60.5).

July 17, 2012

It has been more than seven months since I went down with a season-ending knee injury last fall. On Nov. 7, 2011, I suffered a torn ACL, MCL and meniscus. Those injuries kept me on the sidelines … until now! After finally being cleared by my doctor, which was one of the happiest days of my life, I began to participate in contact drills and practices with my teammates. Since then, I have been determined to get back out there with my team.

Recovering from surgery was no simple task. It involved far more than knee exercises and visits to a physical therapist. You have to be mentally tough, have high spirits and remain determined in order to progress. There were days when I felt that my knee was just not working for me and days when it felt brand new, but it has been a long journey and I have remained patient with the support of my family, friends, staff and teammates.

I have always tried to lead my teammates any way that I can, so my senior year doesn't feel a whole lot different than any other season. Some players might experience a lot of pressure as seniors and feel that they must do everything perfect and remain successful when all eyes are on them. Leaders, I feel, need to take a step back, let others grow and also help them develop along the way. It is a middle ground that is hard to find, but once you do, good things will fall into place. Being the "old man" of the team at 23, there is a sense that the younger players look up to myself and fellow seniors Dylan Royer and Drake U'u. It is reassuring to see all the underclassmen grow and improve every day.

It has been a luxury this summer to have our whole team working out together, going to class and bonding on and off the court. The guys really want to be here and get better, and that's something no coaching staff or school can really enforce. Most of the team has been at Cal Poly for multiple years. The freshmen are catching on quick and realizing what it will take to have another historic year. We are eagerly looking forward to the start of season, but our main focus right now is putting in the hard work we need to succeed. Go Mustangs!

Chris O'Brien (a.k.a CO2)