More than a month after damaging the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee at St. John’s on Feb. 2, UConn sophomore Brianna Banks was cleared by the program to discuss her injury with the media. This was in conjunction with the announcement that her surgery will take place March 14.
“I wish I could play,” Banks said Monday. “And it is starting to get to me [that she can not].”
Banks said she really didn’t feel that bad after play that injured her was over. UConn team physician Dr. Thomas Trojian described it as a hip check. Banks made contact on her left side with St. John’s guard Briana Brown, which caused Banks to fall to her right, buckling her knee.
“I feel like it is my fault,” Banks said. “I had Kelly [Faris open] in the corner. I should have dished it. If I had dished it, I wouldn’t be here. … Really, it didn’t feel that badly [when it happened]. I thought I had sprained it or something.”
But now she is facing a 6-to-8 month recovery period. She has been preparing for surgery since she was injured, strengthening the muscles in her quadriceps and hamstring around the knee with athletic trainer Rosemary Ragle.
And she has been talking to UConn assistant coach Shea Ralph and senior Caroline Doty, who have eight knee surgeries between them.
Banks was having an excellent sophomore season, surpassing just about all of the individual statistical accomplishments she had as an inconsistent freshman.
UConn knew of the severity of her injury the day after it occurred, but waited until the following day, Feb. 5, to tell her.
“I cried,” Banks said. “My mom took it harder than I did. If I go into a deep depression like my mom did it is not going to do me any good, I would take a step back and that is not what I want to do.”
Geno Auriemma said he sees a significant change in Banks’ personality in the aftermath of the injury. She has accepted her faith with maturity and has resolved to do what is needed to get back.
“She has been great,” Auriemma said. “It is an impossible situation but her attitude has been great. She has been pretty diligent being where she is supposed to be where she is going to be there. She is out there whenever she can be so she is doing everything she can and the rest of out of her hands.”
Banks says the toughest thing she’s had to deal with the knowledge that she can not help her team through tough spots, like it faced against Baylor. Her speed certainly would have assisted the cause.
“It’s tough knowing you could have done something to help make things better,” Banks said. “And I actually cried again after it [a 76-70 loss]. … “But you have to grow from something like this. You can not let it set you back or it all is pointless.”
This is the most severe injury of her career, surpassing a sprained shoulder joint she sustained in high school during one summer. But she says she has a lot of friends with knee problems.
“But Shea stays on my butt daily [about getting better],” Banks said. “And Caroline checks on me and if I need anything I go to her. … Things get to me sometimes, but I try not to let them. And not coming back 100 percent is the furthest thing from my mind.”