A Feast For Cramps And The Expected Aftermath
RALEIGH – At some point in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, Cameron Johnson’s hopes of his cramping calves slowly refreshing were likely also met with a stomach experiencing some turmoil.
Those were Johnson’s expectations, anyway, following North Carolina’s 90-82 victory over N.C. State on Tuesday night at PNC Arena, a game in which he missed the final 12 minutes because both calves cramped, causing a great deal of pain and a smorgasbord get-well-fast goodies that ultimately didn’t work.
The senior wing figured a rough night for his digestive system was inevitable as a result of feverish attempts to hydrate, eat and electrolyte himself back into UNC’s game with the Wolfpack. The cost of being ultra-competitive was going to come with a price, but he was okay with it.
“I’ll be fine, I’ll be fine,” he said, smiling.
With just more than 12 minutes left in the game and following a defensive stop, Johnson fell to the floor and didn’t get up. A dead ball seconds later with 11:56 left in the contest enabled UNC trainer Doug Halverson and UNC Coach Roy Williams to rush to the court to check on the Tar Heels’ leading scorer.
Johnson was in pain but got up after about a minute and semi-hopped to the locker room where he remained until about a minute was left in UNC’s victory.
Prior to going down, Johnson was putting on quite a performance. He finished with 15 points, 11 rebounds, five assists to just one turnover, a steal and blocked shot. He was also a steadying influence on the team during many of the frenetic stretches that marked the night.
So, knowing the importance of the game and wanting to get back out there, Johnson began to ingest whatever he could that would calm the calves and allow him to re-enter the contest.
And did he ever ingest.
“I was drinking electrolyte drinks, I was drinking pickle juice, I was drinking greens, which is like a random greens powder you mix with water – it tastes terrible,” he said. “I was eating a granola bar, had a little magnesium tablet, I had a cup of water with magnesium in it.
“They just kept shoveling me stuff and I tried to get it all in as quick as I could. You get it to kind of set in, it just didn’t set quick enough.”
Initially, Johnson thought the drinks, tablets and snacks were working and he would get back into the game. But that was short lived.
“I thought I was,” he said. “And as soon as I got off the table the calf would start to creep up on me a little bit.”
Johnson did eventually improve. In fact, he ran up and down the hall near the tunnel that leads to the court, but as soon as he finally thought all was well his left hamstring tightened.
So, he went back to the locker room for more drinks, tablets and grub.
“It’s probably going to be mad at me tonight.,” Johnson said about his stomach. “I was just putting it down, putting it down, it was a little upset in the moment, that was the least of my concerns.”
During his rush to get back into the game, Johnson was dealing with another layer of stress. The game was going on, so one of the trainers put it up on Watch ESPN, so Johnson was a little bit behind. It was kind of confusing, though, and really just another twist in his strange night in Raleigh.
“I was like two minutes behind or something, (and) every time the (locker room) door would open, I’d hear the crowd and I don’t know what the crowd was reacting to,” he explained. “Let’s say the crowd started yelling, on my screen it was a commercial break.
“So, I was kind of in a panic, I needed to find out what was going on.”
Johnson rejoined the team on the bench with less than a minute left and saw the Tar Heels finish off the Wolfpack. It was quite satisfying for the Pennsylvania native, even if it meant some tummy issues were sure to come.