The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

March 22, 2014

HERTZEL COLUMN- Hampton’s knee ready for final run

MORGANTOWN — You have to understand how much of a person goes into being a collegiate athlete.

It isn’t just the obvious, the punishment and pressure of the games, not even when you add in the grueling practices and off-season conditioning and the studying of opponents.

Toss in the class work and the travel and the time away from family when other students are heading home or for a Caribbean cruise or the panhandle of Florida during spring break.

It is competition on the athletic field and in the classroom, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

And it goes on freshman year, sophomore year, junior year and then senior year, right up until you get close enough to taste the end, see the end and to see a pot of gold at the end of that rainbow, a team that is challenging for a Big 12 conference championship, a Top 10 team that is senior heavy and heading for the NCAA Tournament with a chance to do who knows what.

That’s where Brooke Hampton found herself, a selfless senior point guard, lying on the court in practice, her knee injured, wondering if all of that work, all the sweat and the pressure was for nothing.

Oh, she knew she hadn’t torn an ACL. Enough West Virginia University players had suffered that injury that she knew what it looked like and felt like.

“They told me you scream from the pain,” she said on Friday afternoon, minutes before she was going to get on the bus with her teammates to fly to Baton Rouge, La., for the opening round of the NCAAs in which they are the second seed in the Louisville regional.

At first she thought, maybe hoped is a better word, that what she had suffered was just a bone bruise, but instead it was a torn meniscus, which would require surgery, but recovery is not a long-term thing.

Easy? No, but she was looking at weeks, not months, and there were weeks left in the season.

Maybe she could get back for the Big 12 Tournament. Probably she could get back for the NCAAs.

But here it was Senior Day and WVU had to win to at least tie for the Big 12 title, and coach Mike Carey wanted her to be out there with the rest of her senior class, a special senior class.

“He didn’t want to risk the NCAAs by putting me out there,” she said.

So all day long he was in contact by phone with Hampton. He wanted to give her an honorary start on Senior Day.

Could she do it?

Yes. No. Yes. No.

“We were talking back and forth, should I play, should I not? It was a last-minute, game-time decision. I don’t know who else he talked to, but he said, ‘You’re going to start. We’ll take the jump ball and call timeout right after it,’” she recalled.

And that’s what happened. She started, WVU won the tip, two seconds into the game timeout was called and she was removed, yet it was the start of the greatest day of her life.

“You are with a group of girls that was so rare to find, you are with amazing coaches and fans and your family on top of it, and then you win a championship. I wanted to play, but at least I got out and started.”

A group of girls so rare to find … Hampton, Christal Caldwell, Jess Harlee and Taylor Palmer, along with Asya Bussie, who missed a year with an ACL injury.

“We didn’t know Asya would be here. Once we added Asya in with me, Jess, Christal and Taylor, we were all so hard working and dedicated and we all brought something unique to the game. The combination, with the addition of Asya, which was icing on the cake, was something special,” she said.

Twenty-nine wins into the season they are ready to play Albany in the first round of the NCAA tournament and Hampton is back, having found her basketball legs in the Big 12 Tournament, enough so that now Carey won’t hesitate to use her as Linda Stepney’s backup.

“The first possession in my first game back was like surreal. I knew the knee was hurting and I wasn’t 100 percent comfortable with it. I had to brush the dust off,” she recalled. “The next time I went in I was more confident and got the team back up and did what I had to do to win.”

Her role now is to come in and run the club but with a different style than Stepney, pushing the ball a little harder, making flashier passes and offering a 3-point threat that defenses must defend, opening things up for the real scorers like Bussie, Caldwell and, of course, the stylish sophomore Bria Holmes.

Now it’s one and done … not like any time before in her playing days for this is one and done with your collegiate basketball career.

“It’s kind of scary. It kind of hits you in increments,” she admitted. “But I think we have a really good chance. The bracket we’re in, we’re on LSU’s home court if we beat Albany and if we beat LSU we play Louisville on their home court, but I think we play better away from home anyway.”

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
Bob Herzel
  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Must WVU defense carry offense in ’14?

    The other day the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran a story under the following headline:
    “In a year of change, must the Steelers’ offense carry the defense this year?”
    Reading that turned on a light.

    July 31, 2014

  • WVU takes first step today

    Perhaps the most used — and least factual — cliché in sports is as follows:
    “There’s no tomorrow.”
    Around these parts, however, tomorrow is what they are clinging to, while putting a new twist on the cliché, turning it to, “There’s no yesterday.”

    July 31, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Big 12 provides plenty of optimism

    This past week the Big 12 held its annual media gathering in Dallas and served up a heaping portion of optimism for the 2014 season that is now upon us, West Virginia University opening its preseason practices on Thursday.
    This is a time of year when no one has lost a game, not even Charlie Weis at Kansas, and it’s a time of year when opinions are more plentiful than tattoos in an NFL locker room.

    July 27, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU needs White to follow in former receivers’ footsteps

    A year ago Clint Trickett took a lot of grief as the once potent West Virginia offense came unraveled, but there is more that than meets the eye.
    The criticism was not unfounded, of course, although behind each incomplete pass there was the pain Trickett was suffering through to throw it, his rotator cuff in need of surgery.

    July 26, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: O’Toole joins long list of eccentric WVU kickers, punters

    The star of the Big 12’s annual football media day wasn’t a star at all.
    He intrigued the media far more than Bob Stoops, the coach of preseason favorite Oklahoma, and more than Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty, the preseason player of the year.

    July 25, 2014

  • WVU, N.C. State to meet in football

    Following a trend of creating non-conference games against regional opponents, West Virginia University has reached agreement with North Carolina State to play a home-and-home football series in 2018 and 2019.
    The Mountaineers are scheduled to play N.C. State in Raleigh on Sept. 15, 2018, and then play host to the Wolfpack on Sept. 14, 2019.

    July 24, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: ‘Cheating pays’ remark should draw attention

    When Bob Bowlsby, the outspoken commissioner of the Big 12, presented his opening-day picture of the future of college sports in Dallas for the annual media day gathering, his bleak comments were not unexpected.

    July 24, 2014

  • Holgorsen’s program hits turning point

    You can almost sense, as you watch West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen sit before the gathered Big 12 media contingent answering questions in the Omni Hotel in Arlington, Texas, that he senses his program has reached a turning point.

    July 23, 2014

  • Big 12 Media Days Foo_time(1).jpg Trickett’s play key factor for Mountaineers’ success

     In the end, it comes down to the quarterback.
    Always has with Dana Holgorsen, always will.
    Quarterback is the offense with the West Virginia University coach. When he does well, the team wins – almost always.
    When he does poorly, the team doesn’t stand much of a chance.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Saban, family happy at Alabama

    Alabama football coach Nick Saban, whose team opens the season against West Virginia in Atlanta on Aug. 30, denied receiving or turning down this offseason an offer of $100 million to coach Texas, indicating he planned to finish his career as coach of the Crimson Tide.

    July 18, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads