SALT LAKE CITY — Utah State basketball coach Stew Morrill said today his visits with a player who collapsed on the court during practice have been emotional, bearable only because Danny Berger is much improved and in "fair" condition.
Morrill discussed those visits as his team prepared to play Saturday against Western Oregon — the Aggies' first game since the 22-year-old Berger collapsed Tuesday. Longtime Utah State assistant athletic trainer Mike Williams is credited with saving Berger's life after he went into cardiac arrest.
Morrill said his own heart ached seeing Berger — a 2008 North Medford High graduate — three straight days at a Salt Lake City-area hospital.
"I'm an old bird. I don't know if I'm a tough old bird, but I'm definitely an old bird and things like this are hard. The fact that he's doing so much better has made it bearable. It's emotional," Morrill said.
He said he nearly lost it when Berger was regaining consciousness.
"He thanked me for coming," Morrill recalled. "That one about got me. Yeah right, like it was a big deal for me to come. He's just an awfully, awfully good kid."
A spokesman for Intermountain Medical Center in Murray said Berger remains in fair condition. He was upgraded Thursday and moved out of the intensive care unit, where he had been listed in stable but critical condition after being flown there by helicopter on Tuesday.
Berger's family is with him. Evidence of his improvement was visible in a photo a friend tweeted showing Berger flashing a "thumbs up" sign while surrounded by family members.
Aggies students have organized a campaign to send Berger get well cards and should be in full force to show their support for the team Saturday night, even if Berger remains hospitalized.
Utah State, meanwhile, continues working with Brigham Young officials to find a suitable date to reschedule the rivalry game that was postponed Wednesday because of what happened to Berger. No date has been set yet.
— Associated Press