By: CHRIS BENDEL – ASST. SPORTS EDITOR
Sophomore guard Kelley Austria watched on television as her teammates used an aggressive 2-1-2 zone to throw off the University of Richmond in a 69-58 victory Saturday, Feb. 15, at UD Arena.
If not for her season-ending ACL tear, which occurred Jan. 22 against the University of Massachusetts, Austria would have been at the top of the zone wreaking havoc against the Richmond backcourt along with her teammates.
Even after a six-game absence, Austria leads the Flyers in steals with 35 this season, and would have been an asset for Jabir’s trapping zone defense.
Before her injury, Austria started all 16 games she appeared in for the Flyers and averaged 11.4 points per game while also handling the point guard duties for the team.
She played the second most minutes per game for the Flyers, only behind leading-scorer, junior guard Andrea Hoover.
Freshman guard Celeste Edwards, who scored a career-high 25 points against Richmond, has started at the point for the Flyers during Austria’s absence.
Austria went down awkwardly after going up for a layup against UMass and underwent successful reconstructive surgery to repair a torn ACL Friday, Feb. 14, according to DaytonFlyers.com.
Austria said she knows she can still add value to the team by supporting her teammates and bringing a positive attitude day-in and day-out as the Flyers attempt to wrap up another successful run in the A-10 in March.
“I was pretty upset at first, but I’ve accepted it now and just have to support my teammates,” Austria said.
The Flyers have gone 5-1 since the UMass game, leaving the guard proud of her teammates and excited to see what the rest of the season holds for them.
Austria said she can only remember being sidelined one time in her basketball career prior to her ACL injury. While playing for Carroll High School in Dayton, an ankle sprain kept her out for a few games.
This has been new territory for the sophomore guard though.
The time table for a return to basketball activities differs for each athlete, Austria said, but historically an ACL type of injury has a recovery length of around six months.
While just beginning rehab, Austria said she can try to round out some of the mental aspects of the game, as watching from the bench can provide a different perspective.
“You definitely see little details more, like positioning on defense that you don’t really notice when you’re playing,” Austria said. “Just by watching I can learn a lot more, seeing things that I never would’ve seen while playing.
“Everyone says you usually come back stronger because you train a lot harder. Hopefully I’ll come back a better player.”