The player nicknamed The Machine for his relentless energy on the court was nearly shut down, his basketball career finished.
Denver guard Chase Hallam fractured a vertebra and herniated a disk in his back simply by rolling over in his sleep late last season. Doctors feared he might never play again.
Through rehab and rest, though, the lone senior for Denver returned at the start the season and is leading the squad with his tenacity. Even more, he has the Pioneers (19-8) in line for something that has never happened in school history: earning a spot in the NCAA tournament.
They close out the regular season by hosting Louisiana Tech (26-3) on Saturday, a final test before heading into the Western Athletic Conference tournament, where more than likely only the winner will earn a spot in the big show.
''The way we're playing right now, the guys that we have, I feel we can (make it),'' said Hallam, who's from Mesquite, Texas. ''We're capable of be...