Oct. 17, 2011
IOWA CITY, Iowa — It’s been a while since University of Iowa sophomore Theairra Taylor has been applauded during a women’s basketball game inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. She has, however, received an emphatic hand recently during practice.
Taylor continues rehabilitation from a third ACL repair in 20 months. She played in the first 10 games of her freshman season (out of 34) and missed all 31 games of 2010-11. Taylor is practicing again — at about 75 percent — according to Hawkeye head women’s basketball coach Lisa Bluder, who applauded the guard after she arose from a collision in one preseason practice.
“That was humorous, but it was big for me because I got up and I was OK,” Taylor said. “I wasn’t screaming this time.”
Taylor suffered her first ACL tear as a senior in high school. Then she got her collegiate career off to a quick start, starting eight of 10 games and averaging 8.1 points and 4.9 rebounds per outing. In her first start against William & Mary, Taylor scored 16 points with nine rebounds, five assists and three blocked shots. Less than a month later, her season was over. A second ACL tear occurred three days before Christmas in 2009. A third — and hopefully final ACL tear — happened in the fall of 2010.
“Theairra has been doing almost everything in practice,” Bluder said. “I wouldn’t say she’s 100 percent, but I would say she’s 75 percent, which is better than we’ve seen her since the beginning of her freshman year.”
“I feel pretty good. It means a lot to be playing right now. I don’t take any of the practices for granted. This is basically it, so hoping for the best is all I can do.”
UI redshirt sophomore
The 5-foot-11 Taylor averaged 18.6 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.6 steals and 2.8 assists as a senior at St. Paul (Minn.) Central High School. Taylor wears a knee brace for practice and games. Physically, things appear fine; the mental aspect of recovery is ongoing.
“Right now for Theairra, it’s mentally being able to overcome the idea of this has happened to her three times in the last 20 months,” Bluder said. “It’s tough mentally to overcome. Theairra is gifted, we all know that. We would love to have her on the floor with what she brings skill-wise.”
Taylor says she can provide 100 percent effort for 10 to 15 minutes, then her output declines. She agrees that it is difficult to silence some remaining negative thoughts that still hold her back.
“It’s better not to think about (the injuries), but I can honestly say it will probably be midseason before I’m fully past it,” Taylor said. “I’m not expecting to start right away; all I’m hoping for right now is to play a few minutes a game.”
“It’s been great to have her back,” Printy said. “That’s got to be tough, but she’s doing great in practice. She brings something new and a little spark. Usually we hear her from the bench, which was great, but it’s even better to have her out on the court.”
“I feel pretty good,” Taylor said. “It means a lot to be playing right now. I don’t take any of the practices for granted. This is basically it, so hoping for the best is all I can do.”
Iowa opens the season Sunday, Nov. 6, with an exhibition against Winona State. The Hawkeyes play Harvard on Saturday, Nov. 12, in the first round of the Hawkeye Challenge.