Losing a star contributor to injury can make for a tough season but the best part is the next year, when the player makes his or her much anticipated return.
After a full season of sitting on the bench and watching her teammates, senior guard Andrea Smith is ready to get back on the court for the USF womens basketball team and ready to join her twin sister Andrell Smith in the teams loaded back court.
With the Smith twins and junior guard Inga Orekhova entering her second season with the Bulls, USF will look to improve on the 2011 season, when the team made the third round of the Womens National Invitational Tournament.
Because of Andrea Smiths ACL injury at the end of her junior season, and Orekhova making her debut 15 games into 2011, the two have not yet played in the same back court.
Having her back is a big addition to the team, Orekhova said. Because were both shooters, so with me on one side and her on the other, we can open up the court more for the point guard and the people in the front court.
Sidelined with her injury, Andrea said she could finally relate with her twin sister Andrell, who injured the same ACL in her second season at Gulf Coast Community College, and is glad to be able to finish her college career with her sister.
I think it made us even closer, having both experienced the injury, she said. (Andrell) knew how it felt to go down like that. And now, after everything we went through, were still able to do what we wanted we started together and well finish together.
In her time off, Smith said she worked on the mental aspect of her game, something that will allow her to take her game to the next level in her senior campaign.
I spend a lot of time watching and breaking down film, she said. I broke down film with friends, family, teammates, and I think it helped me learn the game a little more, a little smarter than when I was actually playing.
Coach Jose Fernandez said he looks forward to the potential the Smith twins could have on the court when healthy.
We saw a little bit of them during their first year, he said. But Andrell was coming off the injury she had at Gulf Coast, so we werent able to see the full potential.
Fernandez also said the variety that the two guards bring to the hardwood could make for an exciting season in 2012.
Andrell is a great on-ball defender and great in the open court, whereas Andrea is just a flat-out scorer, he said. Despite them being twins, they have very different styles of play. Theyll be fun to watch, especially in the open court.