COLUMBIA — Not again.
When Bekah Mills felt a pop in her right knee on the first day of practice in October, she didn’t even want to consider the worse-case scenario. She didn’t think it would happen again. She hoped it was just a minor injury that would only sideline her for a few weeks.
But after getting MRI results back a few days later, the worse-case scenario became reality. She had done it again. She tore her anterior cruciate ligament for the second time and would miss another season with the Missouri women's basketball team. During preseason practice her freshman year, she tore her ACL in the same knee.
“I was disappointed to say the least,” said Mills, now a redshirt sophomore. “But you just got to move on from it. Can’t change it.”
Senior Toy Richbow, who started 28 games as a sophomore, was put into a reserve role last season after Mills took Richbow's starting point guard spot early last season. Richbow’s playing time dipped from 31 minutes a game as a sophomore to 19 last season.
However, Missouri coach Cindy Stein said she isn't worried about having Richbow take over for Mills.
“There are no worries with putting Toy out there,” coach Cindy Stein said. “She knows what it takes."
Richbow said she was disappointed to see her teammate get hurt despite knowing it would mean a bigger role this season.
“Right then and there I just knew it was more responsibility on my half,” Richbow said about hearing the news. “It had nothing to do with like ‘oh she tore her ACL, I’m gonna play more’… it was like ‘I got to pick it up a little bit more.'”
Richbow said she thinks her previous starting experience will help her this season.
“Being a senior, I feel like I’ve grown a lot,” Richbow said. “It will just help me come in more confident with more patience and poise.”
As the point guard, which Richbow refers to as “being a mini-coach out on the floor," she is expected to be the most vocal person on the team.
“She’s been very good doing that,” Stein said. “And really, she’s been doing well in every aspect — leadership, her scoring is picking up, and of course, her defense has always been there.”
Her injury means Mills will take on a different role as well. Stein will have another coach on the bench.
“She (Mills) says so much anyways, as far as helping. She does a great job of getting people to do things,” Stein said. “We want her to be more involved.”
Mills, who had surgery on Friday, said her rehabilitation will be different then it was after her first injury.
“It will definitely be slowed down. We just want to make sure this is the last time,” Mills said. “ If we can prevent anything from happening, I’m not in a rush to get back.”
Getting the chance to play four years is still possible for Mills. Despite using a medical redshirt as a freshman, she can apply to the NCAA for an additional year of eligibility when she graduates. Last spring, Missouri softball player Micaela Minner finished her sixth season of eligibility after finding herself in a similar situation.
"I’m not the first person to go through something like this," Mills said. "Hopefully this is the last time.”
The Tigers play their first and only exhibition game at 1 p.m. Sunday at Mizzou Arena against Central Missouri.