It wasn’t the type of news the USF women’s basketball team needed to hear heading into the opening weekend of Conference USA play.
Freshman center Nalini Miller, who posted a career-high 22 points in the Bulls’ (7-6) final non-conference game Tuesday against Niagara, could not sleep at all Wednesday night because of pain from her incoming wisdom teeth.
Miller’s problem adds to the already extensive injury report, which includes Anedra Gilmore (back), Sharon Cambridge (strep throat) and Ezria Parsons (ankle). Also, Rae Rae Sayles will be inactive this weekend because she’s still serving her suspension from the team.
To top it off, USF must face the defending C-USA champions, Charlotte (7-6), tonight at 7 in its first game of the conference schedule. The Bulls defeated the 49ers last season at home but have only won three of 12 games all-time.
“I’m sure they’re going to be fired up to play us,” USF coach Jose Fernandez said. “This is the most important time of the year for everybody.”
Though the Bulls team may resemble a small mash unit, two of the injured players, Cambridge and Parsons, were able to practice Thursday and likely will be well enough to play tonight against the 49ers. Miller, who will be on anti-inflammatory pills during the weekend, and Gilmore, who hasn’t practiced all week due to an injury suffered against Georgia on Jan. 4 , will both be game-time decisions.
In recent weeks, Miller had become a focal point of the Bulls offense along with fellow freshman Jessica Dickson. Though Miller’s status is unknown, Fernandez isn’t worried about the possibility of Miller’s absence disrupting what the Bulls are trying to do offensively.
“I think Sharon Cambridge has proven she can play down (in the post) and be successful,” Fernandez said.
However, Fernandez understands that some changes may have to be made throughout the weekend, and he’s confident the Bulls are ready to rise to that possible challenge.
“Adjustments during the course of the game are going to be very critical,” Fernandez said. “I think we’ve put them in a position where we’re going to be prepared for whatever situation that will come up.”
In addition to Charlotte, the Bulls travel to face East Carolina (9-4) on Sunday at 2 p.m.