Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Monday, February 04, 2013

UConn teammates, coaches taking Brianna Banks injury hard

It was not the easiest of days for the members of the UConn women's basketball team.

They gathered Sunday night to watch the Super Bowl unaware that teammate Brianna Banks' knee injury fell under the worst-case scenario. It wasn't until Monday morning that the sophomore guard was told that an MRI revealed that she tore the ACL in her right knee during Saturday's win over St. John's. Banks, arguably the most improved player on this year's UConn team, will miss the remainder of the season.

UConn coach Geno Auriemma called the news "nauseating" and her teammates were predictably downtrodden when they heard the news.

'I don't bring religion into anything that I do publicly but that saying that God works in strange ways is strange," Auriemma said. "You go from where she was last year to where she is this year, how much she improved and how much she has worked to get her game to where it is and her mind to where it is and obviously you are disappointed for anybody who has to go through that but it is a little more disappointing because you know how far she has come and that is one of the cruelties of this game, of any game to be honest with you that it can be taken from you that suddenly."

Many times there is little doubt that it is a ligament tear when a player crumbles to the ground - especially when they weren't touched by an opponent. However, Banks' injury involved a collision with a St. John's player and it appears the major damage came when she was on the court and a St. John's player made control with her right leg.

"I have been here for so long and I have seen so many of these things in various forms, sometimes a kid goes down, you look around and go 'what are they complaining about' because they can't see any reason why they are hurt," Auriemma said. "The next thing you know it is a torn ACL and then you see a violent collision and I thought her hip, she either hit somebody or landed on it and when Rosemary (Ragle, UConn's athletic trainer) said 'she twisted her knee' right away you are thinking 'man I hope that it not what I think it is.' Then it wasn't until after I got back and Keith (Anderson, UConn's assistant director of video services) showed it to me on the film that I saw they way it was planted and how she got hit. It wasn't the landing on (the court). It was landing on it exactly the right way and getting hit in exactly the spot and even then you have seen it happen and so when the results came in yesterday I don't think it was a big surprise to anybody."

Banks made such remarkable strides from an uneventful freshman season and with each passing week she was becoming a more valued member of the UConn playing rotation. That is part of what made it so difficult for those inside the UConn program to deal with.

"It is hard to have somebody finally make the progress and she was coming off the bench she was making a difference in the game so it is that much harder when you see somebody stepping out of their (comfort level), things are starting to click and go their way and all of a sudden there is a stop to it," UConn senior Kelly Faris said. "It sucks, it really does. I was just talking to her about it. I would never thought with her body type she would ever come close to tearing anything. That is what she said, had she not been hit a certain way it wouldn't have happened. You never know and it is really too bad. I hate it for her because she was just starting to make some big strides and really add something to this team."

One of the things I thought about when I heard that it was indeed an ACL tear is how it seems to happen to UConn players right when they are playing at a high level.  It was that way with Kalana Greene, Shea Ralph and most recently Caroline Doty.

"You wonder," Auriiemma said. "I remember the same thing with Kalana Greene, she was so excited that we were playing South Carolna and then it happened during the South Carolina game. It just seems that way that it has happened a couple of times when you would think people would be emotionally at the top. There is no rhyme or reason for it."

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