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Banged Up Backcourt

W. Basketball stays above .500 despite injuries in the backcourt

By Rebecca A. Seesel, Contributing Writer

The holiday season wasn’t so merry for the Harvard women’s basketball team this year, as the squad spent the closing stages of 2003 battling a slew of key injuries. Though the Crimson (6-5) managed two wins and two losses after the beginning of winter recess and has salvaged a record above the .500 mark, it has had to adjust and then readjust to the continuous stream of afflictions burdening the backcourt.

Junior guard Rochelle Bell, who started every game of the 2002-3 season, has not started once this season. Bell suffers from a degenerative disc in her back which has pushed on a nerve in her left leg.

A consequence of continual stress and the weight-lifting of last winter, the injury sidelined the guard for more than a month of practice and three games throughout the season including an exhibition. Moreover, Bell has entered games from the bench this season—something she had not done throughout the entirety of the last season—after losing her spot in the starting lineup to sophomore Jess Holsey.

About two weeks ago, Bell received a cortisone shot in her back, and though at first painful, the remedy is now proving useful. However, Bell’s injury has been both stubborn and quite frustrating.

“Playing with adversity makes us all better,” Bell said. “Right now I am focused on what our team can accomplish this year and how best I can contribute to that.

“It’s unfortunate that for most of my college career I have struggled with being injured—but I guess I’m a stronger person because of it.”

Bell has pushed through the pain to average just over 15 minutes per game.

Replacing Bell initially as the Crimson’s starting off-guard had been Holsey, who has averaged 27.3 minutes and 9.4 points per game this season.

“[Holsey] has been looked at as a starter for probably both of her years,” said coach Kathy Delaney-Smith said earlier in the season. “She was this good last year [but] she was quite injured.”

Unfortunately for the Crimson, Holsey has continued to be plagued by injuries this season. She dislocated her right shoulder in practice three weeks ago—she suffered a similar injury twice last season—and junior Katie Murphy has started in her place for the past four games.

“I was going out to guard the ball,” Holsey said, “and I just put my arm up, and it came out. I didn’t touch anything.”

However, she has been running, conditioning, and even shooting, and both she and her coach are hopeful that Holsey will play in the near future.

“The target date was for the Dartmouth game [Jan. 10],” Delaney-Smith said, “so hopefully we can get her on the floor.”

Guard Laura Robinson has also battled back spasms recently, keeping her off the floor. She had played from the bench in every game this season until Dec. 30, a 77-70 loss to Rutgers, when the sophomore was forced to sit out.

“[Robinson] is a tough player,” Delaney-Smith said, “and it depends on how bad the spasms are whether they’re going to let her play.”

Robinson is scheduled to have an MRI soon, but she did not wait for the test to resume playing, as she was back in action for the first game of the new year. She notched 11 minutes in the Crimson’s 72-64 win over Stony Brook on Jan. 3.

“She’s back,” Delaney-Smith said, “and she seems to be getting through it.”

Last but not least among the Harvard casualties is senior Beverly Moore. Though she has been a starting guard for every game this season, Moore has suffered from an inflammation of the bone lining in her upper ankle. Though the injury has not sidelined her, it demands as much rest as possible.

Moore has averaged 26.2 minutes and 6 points per game, but has also tried to avoid stressing the ankle.

“Bev is on an adjusted program, but she’s playing,” Delaney-Smith, “and we just have to sort of adjust certain things that she does so she doesn’t get any worse.”

The statement seems applicable not only to Moore’s ankle but to the Crimson backcourt as a whole, as Delaney-Smith has been juggling her players in an attempt to have two strong, healthy guards on the court during each game. Though Harvard still floats just above the .500 mark, the coach acknowledges her frustration with the team’s predicament.

“It’s a pretty bad guard situation, isn’t it?” Delaney-Smith asked with a laugh.

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Women's Basketball