Even Mike Bozeman had to laugh at how things have been going for his team lately.
The women’s basketball team lost its fourth straight game Tuesday night at Richmond, falling 76-47, but what got the second-year head coach chuckling was the familiarity of a potentially serious question: Would any of his players miss time with injuries suffered in the game?
The Colonials (3-13, 0-4 Atlantic 10), who shot just under 33 percent from the field in Tuesday’s loss, entered the game already limited to a roster of seven healthy players. Three starters – redshirt junior Ivy Abiona (ACL), sophomore Tara Booker (meniscus) and freshman Danni Jackson (broken leg) – are out for the year and a fourth player, freshman Shi-Heria Shipp, went down in the previous game with a sprained ankle.
The injury snowball continued to grow as it rolled through the GW roster Tuesday, with sophomore Kay-Kay Allums limping during stretches of action, redshirt freshman Brooke Wilson hyper-extending her knee, and freshman Janine Davis battling through two separate leg injuries.
Bozeman could handle the question somewhat lightly because none of the players hurt against Richmond are expected to miss any time, though he said such a diagnosis is not yet definite.
“The way it’s going, it wouldn’t surprise me,” he said.
Because so few players have been available, the Colonials have been afforded little rest during games, with all seven players playing at least 18 minutes Tuesday and five of them playing more than 28.
While Bozeman was quick to praise his team’s effort, he said the cumulative fatigue was a key factor in Richmond’s ability to race out to double-digit lead within 12 minutes, never letting GW back in the game.
“That’s the first time that’s happened,” he said. “Even in the midst of us having a bit of a losing streak here, we’ve always been in every game. The girls have been giving me everything they’ve had. I just think that last night we ran into a brick wall, physically.”
When discussing what went awry against the Spiders, Bozeman talked about fatigue, game tempo and shooting percentage, but was careful not to discuss his team’s rash of injuries until asked about them specifically, saying he preferred not to let them become an excuse.
Instead, Bozeman said, he is trying to have his team look at its situation in a different light and remind them that there are much worse problems going on in the world.
“We’ll use a tragedy, like what’s happening over in Haiti, and say, ‘Do you think those guys would rather be here dealing with what we’re dealing with, or dealing with what they’re dealing with over there?’ ” Bozeman said. “So you put it in those kind of life terms and there’s no cause for us to give up.”
At this point, the schedule does not work in the Colonials’ favor, as the team had just one day off before taking the court at Villanova Thursday in their last nonconference game of the season. After two more days off, GW will have its third game in six days when it hosts La Salle Sunday at the Smith Center at 1 p.m.
The lack of rest and healthy bodies has forced the coaching staff to adapt its approach, Bozeman said, and find ways to improve without draining the players’ energy. Such strategies include more extensive walk-throughs, low-impact cardio and intensive film study.
Bozeman said the need for creativity has helped him and his staff improve as coaches, and he expects all involved to have grown as a result of the year’s tribulations.
“They say adversity builds character,” he said. “This is definitely a character-building year.”