AMES — On Saturday afternoon during the Iowa State women’s basketball team’s loss to Baylor, Bill Fennelly’s worst nightmare may have come to fruition. Late in the third quarter, junior guard Seanna Johnson got undercut on a rebound and fell awkwardly to the floor.
The awkward landing caused her to injure right knee, which will make her a game-time decision on Wednesday when the TCU Horned Frogs visit Hilton Coliseum for a 7 p.m. tip.
“She’s goes back to the doctor this afternoon (Tuesday) so we probably won’t know anything until tonight. Just trying to get her into rehab, trying to do all that, and all the MRI stuff,” Fennelly said Tuesday to reporters before practice. “We’re still not sure. It will be a game-time decision without question whether she’ll play. They’re going to evaluate her today. Let her do some jogging. Get her in the pool. All that stuff and then she’ll probably go through shoot around tomorrow and then we’ll make a decision if she can go or not. Kind of waiting to see all the reports then we’ll make a decision.”
The 5-foot-10-inch Brooklyn Park, Minn. native is averaging 17.6 points and 9.8 rebounds per game this season and has been one of the best players in the Big 12. Her recent play might even be getting her into conversation for an All-American bid at the end of the season.
Johnson’s ability to break teams down off the dribble, shoot, rebound and defend is crucial to Iowa State’s team. There isn’t another player on the roster that has even close to the same skill set as Johnson.
“We don’t have a replacement for her,” Fennelly said. “Not until we start recruiting, I guess. Other players have to play. That’s the nature of being a Division 1 athlete. Other players are going to have to play better than they’ve been playing. They’ll have to play more minutes. There’s just nothing you can do about it.”
If Johnson isn’t able to go it will put a great deal of pressure on the shoulders of freshman Bridget Carleton, sophomore Emily Durr and senior Kidd Blaskowsky to take on bigger roles as scorers. You also can’t forget about the fact that Iowa State is potentially losing the player that pulls down close to 25 percent of the team’s rebounds.
If it was up to Johnson, she would be playing. She told her teammates that much Monday afternoon at practice. Unfortunately, she isn’t the one that gets to make the call.
“It’s not just about one game,” Fennelly said. “She’s having a great year. We want to make sure we protect that. I think she’s got a chance to play basketball beyond Iowa State. It’s incumbent on all of us. The health of the player is the primary thing.”