North Texas Daily

Women’s basketball hopes to stay healthier

Women’s basketball hopes to stay healthier

Basketball

Women’s basketball hopes to stay healthier
November 05
22:56 2014

Scott Sidway / Staff Writer

No matter what the sport is, injuries are a part of the game, and teams are forced to overcome them.

Even so, losing one-third of a team’s entire roster is harder to overcome, and that is what the North Texas women’s basketball team experienced last season.

“Injuries are a part of sports, but I’ve never had that kind of a situation,” head coach Mike Petersen said. “I was at Wake [Forest University] for eight years, and we’ve had more in my two years here than we had in eight years there.”

The Mean Green lost five of its 15 players to injury last season, three of which were starters at one point in the season.  With such an abnormally high ratio of injured players, Petersen said he hopes that the law of averages comes into play this season.

“We had kind of a bad cycle the last couple of years. Hopefully that means we’ll get through the next couple of years with not as many issues,” Petersen said. “But that’s part of sports. You deal with it, and the next person up does their job.”

For this year’s team, rebounding from injuries is about more than just the “next person up” mentality. Junior forward Acheil Tac tore her meniscus last year and said  she is changing her play style to compensate for certain losses in her game.

“I’m not what I was back then, but you can’t dwell in the past and you have to create new opportunities for yourself,” Tac said. “I’m playing on the perimeter more than last year. I’m getting out there on the three-point line, shooting shots, and I’m able to drive now and pitch.”

One reason Tac and other players are adjusting their play styles is because of the brace they have to wear on their knees. For Tac, the brace restricts some of her movements.

“It doesn’t feel the same. I’m not just freely moving everywhere,” Tac said. “It’s restricting, but it’s not that restricting to where I can’t do anything at all. So I’m still able to play.”

Senior guard BreAnna Dawkins was one of multiple players that tore their ACLs last season. While she said that she tries to look past the brace, she also said that wearing a brace limits her lateral movement.

“Just going laterally gives me fatigue, but it’s something we’ve got to get used to,” Dawkins said. “Wearing a brace is almost like carrying an extra leg. We just have to push through it.”

Recovering from a major injury is both mental and physical. Players have to show resilience and patience with the athletic trainers, while coaches have to be able to accurately read their players’ fatigue on the court. Petersen said his 35 years of coaching experience help him gauge his players’ responses to injuries.

“I’ve got to have a good enough sense of, ‘OK, that kid is starting to limp a little’ or ‘that kid is starting to get behind in her reps or get behind schedule of where they are supposed to be in practice,’” Petersen said. “Then I’ve got to decrease reps and make sure we don’t put them in a position where they’re more likely to be hurt.”

Petersen said that the biggest mental hurdle for an athlete is often times an athlete’s desire to rush back into action.

“Just because they’re released for full contact and just because they’re released for full practice and games doesn’t mean they are 100 percent,” Petersen said. “It just means they’re released. And after they’re released, there’s a period of time where there is no further threat of injury, but they’re not 100 percent.”

The Mean Green has emphasized eliminating the threat of a re-injury during the offseason.

“It’s about stretching the right way, and it’s about doing right strengthening issues. I think we’re doing those things,” Petersen said.

According to Dawkins, the training staff maintained a positive attitude toward both the injured players and the entire team throughout the rehabilitation process.

“I think they take it positively,” Dawkins said. “They just work with us and continue rehabbing us, rehabbing us, and being positive with us, saying that it’s going to be OK, and telling the team that it’ll be OK.”

At the end of the day, just about every team across the NCAA will experience injuries to some degree. For the Mean Green, Tac said, it’s all about persevering through it.

“It’s basketball. Some people are going to get hurt, some people are going to be fine,” Tac said. “You’ve just got to fight through it.”

Featured Image: Junior guard Teadra Jones dribbles the ball at the Mean Green basketball madness event on Oct. 23. The team will play a home exhibition game today at 6 p.m. Photo by Harris Buchanan – Staff Photographer

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