Brianna Banks certainly was not the first UConn women’s basketball player to suffer a right ACL injury. And unless physiology evolves quicker than we expect, she certainly won’t be the last.
But that doesn’t mean her injury and its aftermath weren’t just as personal experiences for her. Or that her return won’t be any less welcomed as those lost and rehabilitated before her among the eight-time national champions.
Another major step in that process takes place Friday when the Huskies play GannonUniversity at Gampel Pavilion in the first of two preseason games preceding the season opener Nov. 9 against Hartford. She was cleared to play before Thursday’s practice.
Gannon is a top Division II program ranked second nationally in USA Today’s Division II preseason coaches poll. The program returns 12 players and all five starters from last year’s 31-5 squad that played in its second Division II Elite Eight in the last four seasons. Gannon lost to Ashland in the national quarterfinals, its third straight NCAA Tournament appearance that ended with a loss to the eventual national champion.
Banks was cleared to practice more than a month to go and has been participating in most team drills since. But only playing can provide her the ultimate answer.
In the midst of a nice sophomore season when she was hurt at St. John’s on February 2 within the first minute she was on the floor. She had played 358 minutes in the first 20 games and was beginning to show some of the flash and consistency that originally attracted the coaches to the former Georgia high school star.
“It was hard to take when it happened,” Banks said. “I was beginning to make so much progress. It took a big toll on me.
And then it was over. On March 14, two days after UConn’s loss to Notre Dame in the Big East tournament championship, she underwent surgery at the University of Connecticut Health Center. The procedure was performed by Dr. Robert Arciero, the program’s go-to orthopedic surgeon.