Sophomore Brianna Banks did not believe that she had suffered anything more than a sprained right knee at St. John’s Feb. 2. She felt her right leg buckle during a collision in the lane with Red Storm junior and Norwalk resident Briana Brown with 10:02 left in the first half. But she did not hear anything pop as she fell to the ground.
However, as we now know, results of an MRI revealed that Banks suffered a tear of the anterior cruciate ligament. She will not play again this season and will undergo surgery March 14.
“I feel like it’s my fault because I had Kelly (Faris) in the corner,’’ said Banks, who was called for an offensive foul on the play. “I won’t forget it. I had Kelly in the corner. I should’ve dished it. If I would’ve dished it I wouldn’t be here. So it’s my fault.’’
Banks spent some time dribbling two basketballs off to the side as the third-ranked Huskies practiced at Gampel Pavilion. She said that she cried when she learned the severity of her injury.
Not playing is a lot worse that she anticipated it would be, but Banks is handling the setback well at this point.
“I think my mom took it harder than I did,’’ Banks said. “She was like in a deep depression. If I go in a deep depression like my mom did it’s not going to do me any good, and I’m going to take a step back and that’s not what I want.’’
Said UConn coach Geno Auriemma: “She’s been great. It’s an impossible situation to be in. But her attitude’s been great. She’s been pretty diligent being where she’s supposed to be when she’s supposed to be there. She doesn’t miss much out on the court. She’s out here whenever she can be. So she’s doing everything she can. The rest is out of her hands. But she’s doing her part.
“She has grown up a lot. She’s changed. She’s got a great mom. And her mom really, really pushes the right things with her and always tries to get her in the right situation for her to be successful.’’
Banks said that her mother will come up from Georgia and stay for about a week when she has surgery.
“We tried to plan it out so that everything’s in her favor, that she has every advantage,’’ Auriemma said.
“These things are out of your control and all you can do is handle it right way. But her mom and I talked, and we also know that graduating from UConn is her No. 1 priority. And don’t let the basketball thing now define your life. `OK, so now I’m not playing basketball.’ So what? Now you’re not a student anymore? Now you’re not anything? You’re just a basketball player? So basketball’s over, but your whole other life has to go on until basketball comes back. Some kids don’t really understand that.’’
Banks is currently working to strengthen her hamstring and her quadriceps prior to undergoing surgery. She is determined to make the best out of this unfortunate situation.
“You have to grow,’’ Banks said. “You can’t let it set you back or all this is pointless.’’
Here are Banks’ thoughts on sitting on the bench during games …
“Once you sit on the sideline and you realize, like you see exactly that Coach is talking about,’’ Banks said. “You see what she’s yelling about, what he’s crying about every day. And it’s a big deal.’’
And here is Banks on the loss to No. 1 Baylor …
“It is a lot harder to watch how hurt the team is and feel like you could’ve at least done something to make it better,’’ Banks said. “I actually cried like I played.’’
The Huskies will host Cal-Davis next season in early December as part of a home-and home deal. UConn will then travel to the West Coast during the 2014-15 season.