Stewart Ready To Get Back In The Game

Freshman Breanna Stewart has been fortunate enough to not have been injured very often during her career at Cicero-North Syracuse High School and her time on the AAU and USA Basketball circuits. So one can imagine just how frustrating it was for her to have to sit out games at Marquette Jan. 12 and against No. 15 Louisville Tuesday because of a sprained left ankle.

Stewart said she asked UConn athletic trainer Rosemary Ragle about 10 times daily if she could play. Bria Hartley, who too has been nursing a sore left ankle, said she was complaining “every two seconds’’ while the two were in the training room.

Stewart actually warmed-up with the Huskies Tuesday night at the XL Center. But instead of playing against the Cardinals, she took a seat at the end of the bench.

“I was pretty upset about it,’’ Stewart said. “It was just more frustrating than anything because I felt like I could play on it. But by how it looked they didn’t feel … And when they touched it it obviously hurt. But they didn’t feel like I was ready yet.

“I appreciate everything Rosemary’s done, and I think she knows that. But at the same time, I’m going to bust her chops a little bit. I think I asked her, `So what’s my percentage for playing tomorrow?’ She would be like, `Twenty-five.’ I would be, `So that means I can play, right?’’’

Said UConn coach Geno Auriemma: “Every coach wants a player who doesn’t want to be in the training room, who doesn’t want to be limited by anybody to how much they can play. Every coach wants that. You have to weigh that with what’s realistic and what’s the right thing to do by that player. I think in Stewie’s case when she got hurt she just felt in her mind, `Yeah, this is like a one-day thing and then I’m playing in the next game.’ It was really hard her for to accept that she wasn’t going to play in the Marquette and Louisville games. And she didn’t want to accept it and was determined to get back long before what anyone thought might take for her to get back. You love kids like that, but at the same time just because they say they want to be back that’s not enough. They still have to be ready to be back. And I’m sure as a doctor and as an athletic trainer and a coach, you want to believe what the player says. But as we found out the players aren’t always right.’’

The frustration has finally subsided for Stewart, who leads the Huskies in rebounding (7.3) and blocks (1.8) and is second in scoring (14.6). She practiced in full Thursday and today and will be back in action tomorrow against UConn meets Syracuse at the XL Center.

“She looks good physically,’’ Auriemma said. “She’s moving real well. There doesn’t seem to be any lingering aftereffects. I’m sure it’s sore, no question about that. But both yesterday and today there wasn’t any indication she was favoring it at all. She went through and did all the things that she had been doing before the injury.’’

Auriemma said he doesn’t see any limitations for Stewart against the Orange.

“It’s stiff,’’ Stewart said. “It’s going to be stiff because it’s still swollen and it’s got a nice color to it. But once it gets warmed up it’s fine.’’

Stewart said she suffered the injury battling Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis during a drill in practice Jan. 11.

“It was just a rebounding drill and I was boxing out and I just stepped on Kaleena’s foot and just completely rolled it very nicely,’’ Stewart said. “It didn’t feel too nice when that happened.

“It was just really painful, and then I was just thinking, `Hopefully, I can get up and go get it taped or something.’ But I sat on the floor for a little bit and then once I got into the trainer’s room I took my shoe off and it was already pretty big.’’