COLUMBIA — Staying on the court has been a problem for Missouri women's basketball player Amanda Hanneman.
After battling through nagging injuries her first three seasons, her senior season began exactly like she hoped. Finally healthy, Hanneman became the Tigers most reliable outside shooting threat and among the nation's leaders in 3-pointers made per game. The Tigers were winning, and everything seemed perfect.
Kansas (12-7, 2-4) at Missouri (11-8, 1-5)
WHEN: 5 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Mizzou Arena
RADIO: KFRU/1400 AM
Then one night in mid-December it all went wrong.
Hanneman and teammate Jessra Johnson were arrested after a fight with MU cheerleader Justin Short at his apartment. All three were suspended after Columbia police became involved. Although charges were not pursued, the damage was still done. Hanneman tried not to wonder if she had put on her Tigers uniform for the last time.
“You can’t think the worst,” Hanneman said. “Just got to keep coming like you’re going to be back on the team.”
For a painful week, the suspension remained. But shortly after it was decided charges would not be pursued, the two players were reinstated to the team. Short was later reinstated to the cheerleading squad. For Hanneman, her reaction was to let out a big sigh.
“(It was a) relief. Just felt good to be back,” Hanneman said. “Even in the arena, even to step foot back into practice, seeing the teammates and everything was just a good feeling.”
During the week she was suspended, Hanneman became restless but said talking to her high school coach helped. Hanneman wanted to play basketball but was not allowed to shoot at Mizzou Arena. Hanneman found a second home — the Mizzou Rec Center.
“I got in the gym every day,” Hanneman said. “I met a lot of new friends there.”
Although Missouri coach Cindy Stein was the one that suspended Hanneman, Stein said she felt bad for Hanneman. Stein saw the work Hanneman had put in and how it was paying off to start the season.
“It’s tough when you have to do something like that,” Stein said. “Just from the fact that she had worked so hard. A bad decision has such a large consequence. The attention it brought our program in a negative way, I know that she feels extremely bad about that. That probably hurts her more than what it did to her personally.”
Stein said Hanneman has a “huge heart” and that some things in the news aren’t always the way they seem.
“People can’t believe everything they read. There’s always a slant to everything,” Stein said.
The brief layoff might have caused Hanneman to lose her shooting touch.
Once Hanneman returned to the lineup in January, the 3-point shot that made her so dangerous early in the season had abandoned her. Games such as the one Jan. 9 at Colorado, when she shot 0-for-5 from 3-point range, were becoming too familiar to the Tigers.
“Amanda’s a shooter. Typically, shooters go through droughts,” junior RaeShara Brown said. “No matter how great you are, she’s going to hit those walls.”
Hanneman might have found her shot in a loss Tuesday at Oklahoma State, where she shot 5 for 8 from beyond the arc. But don’t tell Hanneman she has found her shot again.
“Don’t jinx me,” Hanneman said smiling.
Meanwhile Hanneman, who smiles frequently while playing, is happy to be playing again.
“If I’m not smiling, I’m not having fun,” Hanneman said. “Even if times are rough, you still got to find the time to smile. Basketball is all about having fun. If you’re not having fun, you’re not playing.”