The season started promising for Courtney Schiffauer.
Through two games, the sophomore forward led MSU in points (16.5), rebounds (7.5) and assists (four), and was emerging as a reliable 3-point threat after knocking down 8-of-13 tries.
That all came to a screeching halt in practice on Nov. 17, 2009, when Schiffauer tore the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her right knee, ending her potential breakout season.
“It was pretty bad,” Schiffauer said about her disappointment. “I never really expected to tear my ACL. It was one of my biggest fears playing basketball. It was especially (disappointing) because I came out really well to start the season. But things happen for a reason, so I’m just going to get better at my skills and come back next year.”
In surgery, the doctor also found Schiffauer tore the meniscus in her knee. She recently got off crutches and now is starting rehab. Along with walking, Schiffauer — who was granted an injury redshirt for this season — said she also can also use the treadmill and elliptical.
“It’s going really well,” Schiffauer said of her recovery. “I’m walking now, doing a lot more rehab, so they say I’m doing pretty good.”
Along with rehab activities, Schiffauer has begun to take in some basketball-related activities, including free throws and dribbling. Jumping will come down the line.
“Now that I’m getting to do rehab things it’s kind of making it move a little faster, but it’s not fun,” she said.
With the tear coming so early in the season, there hasn’t been any need to rush through rehab. Schiffauer said her timetable to return is about three months, which means she should be rolling during offseason activities.
“They’re taking their time because I’m redshirting this year and letting it heal,” she said.
Schiffauer’s outside presence has been missed at various points this season, but no more so than on Jan. 9 against Ohio State in a 65-62 loss. Down three in the waning seconds, the Spartans had trouble getting a good shot to tie the game.
“I felt like that was a game, too, we’ve had a few of them, where we really needed a knock-down shooter,” head coach Suzy Merchant said Jan. 11. “You could feel Courtney Schiffauer not being on the floor, to be honest with you.”
Sitting at the end of the bench originally didn’t go over very well with Schiffauer — “It was pretty boring at first,” she said — but she’s started using it as a learning experience.
“It was tough at first, but now I kind of look at the games differently and see what people are doing and other teams’ defenses,” Schiffauer said. “It’s a different perspective that should help me out for next year.”
Schiffauer isn’t the only player on the team to go through the injury, however, so she has plenty of support.
Four teammates have suffered a torn ACL while with MSU, including senior center Lauren Aitch (2005), senior forward Aisha Jefferson (2007), sophomore forward Taja Wilson (2008) and junior guard Brittney Thomas (2009). In addition, last year’s lone senior, guard Mia Johnson, went through the process twice.
Aitch said Schiffauer is doing well in her recovery.
“We’re here to support her,” Aitch said. “I think it helps that she’s able to be around the team a lot more. When I went through mine, I was downstairs by myself and didn’t get to interact with the team very much besides film and on the bus and things like that. We’re keeping her close and she’s working really hard and I think she’s going to do well.”
Schiffauer said the support from her teammates has made the healing process easier.
“I always ask them questions at rehab about how to do different things,” she said. “They’re always there to talk. They were there when it happened and have really helped me out with it. Even though it’s a horrible injury, it’s nice having people who have gone through it.”