For Villanova captain Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree, the Wildcats’ current run in the NCAA Tournament is a mixture of pride and frustration: pride in the way his teammates have handled the adversity they’ve faced with injuries; frustration that he can’t help them on the court.
The 6-foot-9 senior forward and former Neumann Goretti High School star has not played a single minute this season due to a tibial stress fracture in his left leg for which he underwent surgery in January. He has not been a part of the team bubble since then as he undergoes rehabilitation.
Still, he stays in touch, talking to his teammates at least once a day and sending a text or two. He watches every game, which involves much “screaming and yelling” at the television.
But oh, how he’d much rather be with them.
“It’s probably one of the most difficult things that I’ve ever had to do in my basketball career,” he said Monday in a telephone interview. “You’re watching the game and you’re out and you’re hurt. There are plays that happen during the game when you feel like, ‘I should be there with my brothers in the game doing that play, making the play.’
“As a player I feel it, especially since it’s been the whole season, really. It’s more frustration not being there, not being in the games and stuff like that. But on the flip side of it, I’m extremely proud of everybody, seeing how everybody’s growing. It’s a different view, I guess you could say, from being a player to being off the court and just kind of watching everything and see what goes into everything.”
Cosby-Roundtree has played in 105 games with 17 starts for Villanova, averaging 3.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 13.5 minutes. One of his more memorable games came in his freshman year of the Cats’ 2018 national championship run, when he scored four points and grabbed seven rebounds off the bench in a 71-59 win over Texas Tech that sent them to the Final Four.
He was with the team – from a distance – on Senior Night earlier this month at Finneran Pavilion. Because he was not a Tier 1 member of the Wildcats’ bubble, he was introduced separately and watched fellow seniors Collin Gillespie, Jermaine Samuels, and Kevin Hoehn from a corner of the court far from the team bench.
“That’s probably the most excited I’ve been in a while for anything,” he said. “I lost my voice during warmups. I was so excited just to be in the gym and being able to talk to them and just being there physically seeing them. It was weird not being around them, but that was the closest I felt to them, so it was more exciting to me than thinking about how weird it was.”
The Wildcats won the game over Creighton but lost Gillespie, their point guard and floor leader, for the rest of the season with a torn left medial collateral ligament.
“The first thing I did was to pray for him and his mental health and make sure that he stayed strong,” he said. “That’s the only thing I could think about when it first happened.”
Cosby-Roundtree was involved in the pregame discussions before Sunday night’s 84-61 win over North Texas that sent Villanova to the Sweet 16. He was part of a Zoom session before one of the team meetings and saw the team’s scouting report.
“I know what we’re going into while I’m watching the game, and then I can see us executing it,” he said.
As for his game report, he sounded like his coach, Jay Wright, noting the team played for the full 40 minutes, especially Chris Arcidiacono diving for a loose ball seconds before the final buzzer.
“Arch’s play, that just showed that we played our full 40 minutes,” he said. “We didn’t care if it was a close game or if it was a 20-point game, we played the whole game. I think that’s something where we kind of grew throughout our season. Sometimes we didn’t do that, so you can see the growth in our team.”
Cosby-Roundtree called his daily rehab “an up-and-down process” where progress is measured in how sore your body is when you advance another step. He said he looks forward to the offseason when he’ll be able to work with head athletic trainer Dan Erickson.
A liberal arts major with minors in education and counseling, he is on schedule to graduate in May. He said coming back to the team for a fifth season depends on how he feels his rehab is progressing.
“I think that would determine it, how I feel coming up to graduation,” he said. “Based on my therapy and everything, I would decide if I’m going to come back or not, trying to figure out how my body feels like through [physical therapy] and everything.”
Until then, he’ll be watching and cheering and screaming as his teammates try to advance farther into the tournament.
“You could see it all coming together, everybody locked in to what we do and locked in to what we stand for,” he said. “You can see on TV and everything. You can physically see everybody buying into it. So it’s just exciting to see how much better we can be before the end.”