Injury leads to new roles for MU women's basketball players

Tuesday, November 30, 2010 | 8:33 p.m. CST; updated 8:45 p.m. CST, Tuesday, November 30, 2010

COLUMBIA — RaeShara Brown has been the top playmaker for the Missouri women’s basketball team this season, leading the team in points and assists. Now she will have the ball in her hands even more.

The Tigers have lost starting point guard Bekah Mills for the season. She tore the ACL in her left knee in a game versus Tennessee on Nov. 25. This is Mills’ fourth ACL tear but the first in her left knee. The redshirt junior missed two of the past three seasons with ACL injuries.

So Brown has taken over as point guard for the Tigers, a role with which she is comfortable. She played point guard exclusively her freshman year and since that time has played both shooting guard and point guard.

Brown’s playing time might be the biggest thing impacted by Mills’ injury. Before the injury, Brown was already averaging more than 33 minutes a game, but in the two games without Mills, Brown played all 40 minutes in a win over Georgetown and 39 minutes in a loss to Georgia Tech. She said she doesn’t mind the extra playing time one bit.

“I’d rather be on the floor than on the bench,” she said. “When I’m not on the floor, I can’t help my team.”

Brown isn’t the only player whose playing time will increase because of Mills’ absence. In the early stages of the season, junior Bailey Gee and sophomore Sydney Crafton were establishing themselves as the top bench players for the Tigers. Mills’ injury has thrust Crafton into the starting lineup and increased her minutes, but the change may not be permanent.

“I don’t think anything’s permanent,” Missouri coach Robin Pingeton said. “We’re going to take it week by week. To me, it’s more important who finishes the game rather than who starts it.”

Before Mills’ injury, the Tigers had already lacked depth and any kind of experience off the bench. Now the bench will be one woman thinner. Pingeton thinks it’ll take a group effort from the bench players to fill that void.

“With the lack of experience we have, it’s going to take a little bit of everybody,” she said. “It’s going to be different every night depending on who we’re playing and the matchups. Until we get comfortable with a set eight- or nine-man rotation, we’ll just have to wait and see.”

No matter who’s on the court for the Tigers, the offense will run through Brown this season. That was apparent even before Mills’ injury. But Brown is about more than just offense. She leads the team in steals and rebounds, too. She knows how important she is to the team and that the team goes as she goes. That might seem like a lot of pressure, but Brown doesn’t feel any.

“With coach P and her confidence in me, and the confidence I have in myself and the confidence my teammates have in me, I don’t feel the pressure,” Brown said. “I know it’s important for me to play well every night. You’re not going to have every shot fall, but as long as I’m working on making the best decisions for my team then we’ll be all right. I don’t feel the pressure, for real.”


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