Aches and pains have been as much of a part of Jasmine James‚Äô career as jumpers and rebounds.
Preseason practice for James‚Äô senior year began last week. This time, the senior guard hopes she can manage to pull through without a bite from the injury bug.
‚ÄúYou definitely try to look forward to an injury-free season,‚Äù James said. ‚ÄúA lot of things have been done as far as better conditioning and better nutrition and diet and different things like that to try to remain as healthy as possible. It‚Äôs a contact sport for the most part so things are going to happen. You can‚Äôt control those things for the most part, so you just try to stay as healthy as possible.‚Äù
Georgia has moved into its second week of preseason practice leading into the season opener on Nov. 11 against Rutgers at Stegeman Coliseum. The Lady Bulldogs will take part in the BasketBASH preseason pep rally at 7 p.m. on Friday at Stegeman Colisuem.
Georgia finished the 2011-12 season with a 22-9 record but departed the NCAA tournament in the first round after a 76-70 loss to Marist.
‚ÄúI think that was motivation to get in the gym more and shoot more and just do all the little things more,‚Äù Georgia senior forward Jasmine Hassell said. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs given us a lot of motivation because we don‚Äôt want that to happen again. We‚Äôre not really doing different, we‚Äôre just doing it more. We‚Äôre investing more time and effort than we have before.‚Äù
James fought through her second straight frustrating season of spending at least as much time in the training room as in practice with a sprained knee that never seemed to get better. James missed seven games last season and averaged career-lows in points (10.6) and minutes (33.8) per game.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm hopeful that she can avoid those injuries this year,‚Äù Georgia coach Andy Landers said. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm hopeful for many reasons. She‚Äôs already had her share of bad luck. That‚Äôs one. But the big one is that there wasn‚Äôt a morning this summer when she wasn‚Äôt already on the court when I got to the office at 7 or 7:15 in the morning. This was above and beyond everything she‚Äôs done before.‚Äù
Although none of James‚Äô injuries have been the kind to sit her down for weeks at a time, they tended to come during the seasonal cycle and forced her to miss either practice time or isolated games or both. As a freshman in 2009-10, James had a bone bruise in her knee that knocked her out of much of preseason practice. James didn‚Äôt start her first game as a freshman but she went on to start 55 straight games until a sprained wrist knocked her out of a contest against Alabama as a sophomore. As a junior last season, James sprained her knee against Montana State in the 11th game of the season and missed two games. She re-sprained it against Mississippi State ended up missing a career-high seven games.
‚ÄúThe wrist injury was on my shooting hand and the knee injury, was, well they are what they are,‚Äù James said. ‚ÄúI just had to figure out different ways to rehabilitate and try to play through them and get back at it. It just seemed like they always came at the most difficult points in SEC play and things like that. But we always tried to figure out ways around it.‚Äù
Despite the injuries, James has become one of the cornerstones for the program. She is a four-year starter. James hit the buzzer-beating shot that knocked Florida State out of the 2011 NCAA tournament. James has become both the vocal and emotional leader.
‚ÄúI don‚Äôt think it‚Äôs really held her back,‚Äù Hassell said. ‚ÄúOf course, it‚Äôs kept her from playing as much as she would want. But I think as much as anything it‚Äôs made her stronger instead of defeated her. I think it‚Äôs made her a better player because it‚Äôs given her more determination.‚Äù