Otahkians coach home, recovering after surgery

Friday, May 30, 2003

Southeast Missouri State University women's basketball coach B.J. Smith is back home after a weekend accident that required head surgery for a blood clot and kept him hospitalized for four days.

During a visit to Kansas City to see his brother, Smith said he and his brother "were horsing around in the basement. I fell and hit my head on the steps, which hadn't been carpeted yet."

Smith said he cut his head but felt fine, and he spent Saturday night at his brother's house before he and wife, Mauricha, started the drive back home to Cape Girardeau Sunday morning.

About halfway from Kansas City to Cape Girardeau, Smith passed out, although his wife assumed he was sleeping. When they returned home and she couldn't wake him, she called Southeast associate head athletic trainer Gail DiPrete, who works closely with the women's basketball program.

According to Smith, DiPrete requested an ambulance be called to take Smith to a hospital.

At Southeast Missouri Hospital, Smith was found to have a blood clot, and surgery was performed to remove the clot and relieve pressure. He returned home Thursday evening and said he expects to make a full recovery.

"I'm thankful to Gail, the doctors, the nurses," Smith said. "The doctor said if it had been another 20 minutes before I was brought into the hospital, I would have died.

"If Gail doesn't say I had to go to the hospital ... she could have very well said I should be taken into the house to lie down. But apparently she said my face looked bad, and she had a feeling something was wrong."

Smith said he doesn't remember anything "from about outside St. Louis when I passed out. The next thing I knew, I woke up in the hospital after the surgery Sunday night."

Smith said doctors have told him to take it easy for a while, but he should be able to resume full activities soon. And he even found time to inject a bit of humor into the situation.

"Twenty more minutes and they would have had a new women's basketball coach here," he said. "And if I ever go bald, I'll have a big scar."


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