RICHMOND, Va. -- Chris Mooney had never been away from his basketball team for so long, and admittedly was going a little stir-crazy.
“The day I came home was the George Mason home game,” Mooney said. “It turned out to be great because I watched the games with my boys which was a unique opportunity. But I was starting to get a little restless.”
Mooney underwent surgery for an aortic aneurysm at UVA Medical Center on February 28. He returned home that Saturday and was cleared by his doctor to return to his office earlier this week.
He reported no pain and said he felt very good overall considering the incredibly serious condition he needed to be corrected.
“I was scared because I had never been in a hospital before,” Mooney admitted. “I’d never had a health issue, and then suddenly, it’s this. The more I spoke to my doctors, the better I felt. But I think there’s always a pretty good amount of fear involved.”
Mooney, 50, spent a good portion of his rehabilitation walking a golf course that he doesn’t even play near his home.
The team went 2-4 in his absence under interim head coach Peter Thomas, including a first-round win over UMass at the A-10 Tournament in Brooklyn.
The spring is a critical time for college basketball programs, not just because of March Madness, but also for recruiting players from high schools and the NCAA Transfer Portal who might join the program in subsequent years.
Recruiting being the cutthroat business that it is, Mooney is keenly aware that other coaches will use his recent health scare against him and the Spiders program in an effort to lure players away from UR.
“It needs to be addressed and it’s better if I bring it up,” Mooney said. “When these things happen, you find so many other people who have been exposed to the same thing. A recruit’s father has had something similar or something similar like that. But it is something I want to make sure I’m transparent about.”
Given the severity of his condition and the surgery to correct it, there might have been a natural place for Mooney to consider retiring from coaching or staying away for longer than just six games.
The thought never crossed his mind because of his love for the University and, despite all of his success, a desire to do even more with the program in the future.
“I hope that there’s a lot left to accomplish at Richmond,” Mooney said. “I’ve always loved coaching, but I love being part of Richmond basketball and that’s something that is just too special to me.”
CBS 6 provides Central Virginia with the only local TV sports coverage in town. Depend on Lane Casadonte and Sean Robertson for the most complete local sports coverage.
EAT IT, VIRGINIA restaurant news and interviews