Sophomore guard Brianna Banks will miss the rest of the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee, the team announced today. She sustained the injury while committing an offensive foul in the lane with 10:02 left in the first half of Saturday’s 71-65 win at St. John’s.
“I guess that saying that God works in strange ways is strange because you go from where she was last year to where she is this year and how much she’s improved and how much she’s worked to get her game to where it is and her mind to where it is,’’ UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “And, obviously, you’re disappointed for anybody that has to go through that. But it’s a little more disappointing because you know how far she’s come. That’s one of the cruelties of this game, of any game to be honest with you, that it can be taken from you that suddenly.’’
Banks, who was not made available for comment Monday, sustained the injury while committing an offensive foul in the lane with 10:02 left in the first half. She had three points and one steal in the one minute, 22 seconds she was on the floor.
The severity of the injury was confirmed in an MRI that Banks underwent Sunday. Auriemma elected not to inform Banks of the results until Monday, allowing her to watch the Super Bowl with her teammates with a clear head.
“When it came back last night it was pretty nauseating to be honest with you,’’ Auriemma said.
Banks will undergo surgery in the coming weeks. She will be on the bench Tuesday when the third-ranked Huskies host Marquette at Gampel Pavilion.
Banks, who scored in double figures in seven games this season, was averaging 7.3 points, 1.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 17.7 minutes through the first 21 games.
“It’s devastating,’’ UConn junior Stefanie Dolson said. “It’s hard for someone like Bri, who’s just stayed so positive all year, getting better in the off-season and preseason and really working on her game and wanting to be a part of this team and really helping us to win every game. It’s hard to see it happen to someone who works as hard as she does. And just the timing, it’s tough. It sucks. But we’re all here. We talk to her and she knows that we’re here to support her and help her through it. And we have a few girls, obviously, on the team who have been through it so they can all help her.’’
Banks was involved in a collision with Norwalk resident Briana Brown. Banks fell to the court and remained down for several minutes before being helped off by UConn athletic trainer Rosemary Ragle.
“It’s extremely disappointing,’’ UConn freshman Moriah Jefferson said. “She is probably one of the closest people I am to on the team. We have all these inside jokes and things on and off the court. So seeing her go down stinks. I know that she’s trying to stay positive, but anytime that happens to anybody you get a lot of discouragement. So I think I’m going to try to just keep her up, keep her happy during the entire time.’’
Banks becomes the seventh player this season to miss at least one game due to injury or illness for UConn. Kiah Stokes has missed six games due to a stress reaction in her right shin. Morgan Tuck has missed three games due to a bone bruise in her right knee. Bria Hartley and Breanna Stewart have each missed two games due to a sprained left ankle. And Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (concussion) and Dolson (illness) have missed one game apiece.
“It sucks,’’ Dolson said. “It’s just unlucky. It happens to a lot of teams. It’s just part of the game, part of something that you’ve got to work through as a team and I think it just will show how, hopefully, how much tougher we are. We’re just going to have to be mentally stronger than we have been in the past.’’
Here is what Auriemma said regarding Banks’ reaction when he told her the extent of her injury …
“Like you would think, like any kid who all of a sudden just comes face to face with the fact that my season’s over and that everything that I did in August, September, October, November with the hopes that March is when I get that reward that every kid wants,’’ Auriemma said. “And now that’s gone. So, obviously, she was really, really, really upset about it.’’
Here is some more reaction from the Huskies:
Said senior Kelly Faris: “It’s really disappointing. I can’t say that I’ve even had anything remotely close to that. I know some of the guys had and they know what it’s like. So it’s going to be huge for those guys to stay there with her, take her through it. And we all will and we’ll be there for her and do everything we can. But it’s hard to see somebody who had finally started to make the progress and when she’d come off the bench she was making a difference in the game. So it’s that much harder when you see somebody finally stepping out of their box and things are starting to click and go their way and then all of a sudden there’s a stop in the road. So it sucks. It really does.’’
Said Mosqueda-Lewis: “It’s hard losing a player like Bri who has worked so hard to get where she is at now and improve. We saw it in the summer with her coming in here and it was like, `Oh my gosh she is going to be good this year. She has improved so much. She is working so hard. Her attitude has changed.’ And it carried on into practice and the games. She has just been a great spark for us on defense and stuff like that. To see her go down in the middle of the season like this, it is kind of deflating. When you see someone like that who has worked so hard to get where she is now and then it is just kind of taken away, it sucks.’’
Said senior Caroline Doty, who has three times torn the ACL in her left knee: “It’s just something you never wish for anybody. And for her to have to go through it … She’s been getting into her element. She’s been doing such great things. And for it to happen now, it stinks. But at the same time, she’s a sophomore. I told her she’s going to be able to see so much more from the bench and just try to take it as a positive spin and learn from this unfortunate thing. I can’t say how she’s going to respond to it, but I’m going to try to be there for her. If she needs someone to talk to I’m going to be there. I’m not going to hover over her or anything. But at the same time I’m going to give her company because I think that’s the biggest thing. People are going to be asking her how she’s doing, how’s her mindset and all that other stuff. But I’m just going to try to be there just to hang out and laugh because I think that’s the best cure is positive spirit.’’