SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah State basketball player who collapsed at practice and had to be revived after he stopped breathing is waking up and responding the way “doctors want him to,” his brother said Wednesday, although the player remains in critical condition.
“As of right now, things are looking good,” John Berger, the older brother of Utah State forward Danny Berger, said in a statement he read to reporters at Intermountain Medical Center in a Salt Lake City suburb.
Hospital spokesman Jess Gomez said Danny Berger remained in critical condition Wednesday afternoon.
Doctors still don’t know what caused Berger, 22, to collapse on the court during a practice Tuesday in Logan, Gomez said.
A team of doctors — including cardiologists, pulmonologists and trauma specialists — is running tests on Berger in the hospital’s intensive care unit. After being taken to a hospital in Logan, Berger was flown by helicopter Tuesday night to the regional trauma center.
Gomez and the Berger family credited Utah State’s training staff with saving Berger’s life. They performed CPR on Berger and used a defibrillator on him. Berger was in cardiac arrest on the court, Gomez said.
John Berger specifically thanked Mike Williams, the assistant athletic trainer who was at practice when Danny Berger collapsed.
“He saved my brother’s life and I thank God for him,” John Berger said, tearing up as he read the statement.
John Berger, 26, was with his sister, Lauren Berger, 23. They did not take any questions.
Danny Berger was born in Fort Collins, Colo., and went to high school in Medford, Ore. He played basketball at Chemeketa Community College in Oregon before coming to play for Utah State. The junior is a starter at forward and averages 7.6 points and 3.6 rebounds a game.
A game scheduled for Wednesday night between Utah State and Brigham Young in Provo was postponed because of Berger’s condition, school officials said.
Some of Berger’s teammates made the 90-mile trip to support him at the hospital, but they have not been allowed into his room, Gomez said.
The family has also received well wishes and prayers from around the country, John Berger said. “I know that you have made a difference in keeping my brother alive,” he said.
Students at the campus in rural Logan were stunned by the turn of events as they prepared for the big rivalry game with BYU, which will be rescheduled.
“Everybody is in shock, and in awe of how it can happen to such a good guy,” said Karson Kalian of Utah State’s HURD student section. “He is one of the hardest-working people on the court. He’s got a lot of determination and shows a lot of heart.”
Kalian noted that social media sites have lit up with support for Berger, his family and the Aggies basketball team. “It feels more like Danny is our brother and we’re one big family,” Kalian said.
He praised BYU for postponing the game, saying, “Life is more important than basketball.”
There’s no question fans were looking forward to the rivalry. BYU twitter posts indicated students had been camping out for two days to get the best seats available in the new student section at the Marriott Center.
Last year, Utah State students camped out for three days to do the same at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
After Utah State’s football team lost 6-3 to BYU in Provo this fall, Kalian said there was plenty of energy building to avenge that loss on the basketball court.
Now the energy is being spent on Berger, with hopes and prayers that he recovers fully.
Even BYU’s basketball team sent its thoughts and prayers to Berger through a Twitter post, as did the Saint Mary’s team, which beat the Aggies earlier this year.
Kalian said Berger deserves support.
“There’s not one person who will say anything bad about Danny Berger. If there was an athlete you could label as the perfect guy, it would be Danny Berger,” he said.
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