Saturday, November 17, 2012

Duke's Williams Has Frustrating Foot Injury

Last year the Duke Blue Devils girl's basketball team was hit hard with injuries, and this year was supposed to be different. This preseason has proven challenging in that All-American Elizabeth Williams has not recovered fully from a stress fracture suffered in March.
Returning this year are four starters who helped the team make it to the Elite Eight, so expectations for the girl's basketball team are high. Head coach Joanne P. McCallie's team has been ranked No. 3 this year as well, adding to the potential. The Blue Devils were the preseason pick to win the ACC, but that was dependent on the 6-foot-3 sophomore, last year's National Freshman of the Year, being healthy and ready for action.
In her freshman year Williams averaged more than 30 minutes a game, the second highest on the team. She spent the summer between her senior year of high school and college playing for USA basketball, where she won a gold medal as a member of the 2011 U-19 team.
"I played USA basketball through the whole summer and once I got back I went straight into preseason. I never rested my body for an extended period of time," said Williams.
Things finally caught up to Williams before the NCAA tournament when she was diagnosed with the stress fracture in the tibia bone of her right leg. Even though she was in pain, Williams played, averaging 11.5 points and 28.3 minutes during four games.
During this summer, however, Williams rested her injury, not playing basketball when the team traveled to France and Italy. She instead used the time to strengthen her leg and avoided putting pressure on it.
"I still lifted weights with the team, since I couldn't do a lot of basketball stuff. In rehab I did a lot of hip and ankle strengthening so that I wouldn't be putting too much stress on my shin, and I would be able to learn how to use my hips more."
While all that strengthening did a lot of good physically for Williams, her injury has not recovered as quickly as the team would have hoped. The average stress fracture can take anywhere from four to 12 weeks to heal, but it has been seven months for Williams.
"I'm day-to-day right now. Depending on my pain level is how much I'll practice. It hurts at points where I put a lot of pressure on it, jumping, if I lean too much in one step, things like that," said Williams.
The sophomore played 15 minutes in the preseason Blue-White scrimmage. After the game McCallie reported the soreness in Williams' leg had come back and she would be sidelined indefinitely.
"It felt good playing, honestly. The pain usually comes if I play in practice for a couple of days in a row without rest and that's when I start feeling the soreness," said Williams.
"She's been hurt and trying to strengthen that bone, but it keeps popping up. It's been seven months since the stress fracture, and it would have been better if she had broke it," said McCallie.
In the meantime, the Blue Devils have to sideline their star player with the hopes that she will recover in time for conference play. At the moment, extended practice causes pain.
McCallie doesn't believe that more rest is the key to Williams' recovery. "She gets oodles of rest. She hasn't been through a full practice in over seven months. The key is I've got to be honest to Elizabeth. I can't let her play at 40%... She's just got to simply see what she can do."
We'll see in the coming months how long Williams' foot injury takes to recover and how it affects the season. Will Duke continue to hold that No. 3 ranking? Sounds to us like something more serious is going on with her injury.
If you are are suffering from a sports related foot injury, call our Newington, Kensington, or Middletown office to make an appointment.
Craig M. Kaufman, DPM
Connecticut Foot Care Centers
Sports Podiatrist in CT
Podiatrist in Newington, Kensington, and Middletown, CT
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