In sports, injuries are a part of every team, but for the USF women’s basketball team, injuries have become the story this season.
First, the news came before the start of the season that Lindsey Smith would not return to the team following her second torn anterior cruciate ligament. Smith’s departure left an already undersized squad minus one more body in the paint and down to just 10 players on the roster while 6-foot-5 Jameelah Trimble sits out this year following her transfer from Florida.
“Everyone was healthy and ready to go,” sophomore Sarah Lochmann said. “We were eager to play and then we got dealt a setback.”
That would be the first of numerous setbacks for the Bulls, as their lineup became like the proverbial revolving door.
Lochmann sustained a stress fracture in her leg during the opener against Boston University and missed the next six weeks. She returned for two minutes against Manhattan Dec. 18, the first game freshman Jen Kline missed after she suffered her own stress fracture two days prior against Western Kentucky. Kline’s six-week rehabilitation ended Feb. 1 against TCU. Melissa Tape missed the game against the Horned Frogs while still recovering from gall bladder surgery. Then during that game, junior Aiya Shepard went down with a sprained posterior cruciate ligament that will force her to miss the rest of the season.
“It’s been hard of course,” Lochmann said.
“We seem to get the chemistry going and then someone else goes out. With people going in and out, it’s been hard to connect on the court. I think we’ve done good, but every day’s been a rough day.”
Other than the first game of the season Nov. 17 against BU, the Bulls haven’t suited up every player for any game. Tape probably won’t return until Feb. 15 at East Carolina or Feb. 17 at Charlotte.
Sunday the Bulls will take on UAB, which they defeated 73-64 Jan. 6 at the Sun Dome, and they’ll probably do it again with just eight players.
The Blazers (8-14, 1-7 in C-USA) are no strangers to injury, having lost third-team All-American Deanna Jackson to a broken fibula earlier this season.
“We just have to deal with it. Other people have to step up because this is the hand we’re being dealt,” Fernandez said.
“You don’t enjoy injuries. You don’t want injuries. This is something that’s happened to us – two stress fractures, a couple ankle sprains. The ideal situation is what if such a young team and only one senior, what if we had been healthy all year? How good of a season would we be having right now? Pretty darn-good one.
“But, I think we’re still having a pretty good year with what we have out on the floor, that’s for sure.”
- Anthony Gagliano covers women’s basketball and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org