They were shorthanded. Now they’re nearly crippled.
Junior Kelly Helvey’s injury was a big hit in early December, but now two more injuries have forced the Michigan women’s basketball team into a roster with just seven active players and into calling another Michigan squad for roster help.
The Wolverines, who had just nine active players on the roster coming into Sunday’s game against Minnesota, are in this predicament due to the loss of both sophomore forward Katie Dierdorf and leading scorer Ta’shia Walker.
Dierdorf has been hampered by a lingering hip injury and will sit out the rest of the season. Walker, on the other hand, is out indefinitely due to surgery. Dierdorf and Walker accounted for 31 percent of the team’s scoring output. In their absence, the other Wolverines must fill that void.
Dierdorf, who has the eighth-highest field-goal percentage in the Big Ten, was the Wolverines’ second leading scorer in conference play, and she scored in double-digits in six of the last eight games.
“Katie has just been so consistent offensively,” Burnett said. “She is so athletic for her position. So we will lose her athleticism running the floor well.”
The Michigan roster has become so lean that the coaches have welcomed the idea of adding players from another Michigan team into the lineup.
“We’re activating some of the volleyball kids,” Burnett said. “Michigan is an unbelievable place, in that, with our injury situation, we’ve had other sports ask us if we needed help, and volleyball has come through.”
Volleyball coach Mark Rosen allowed starting setter Mara Martin, sophomore captain Lyndsay Miller and junior middle blocker Megan Bowman to give their services to the women’s basketball team.
“I was approached by a couple of people in our department, saying I know that you have volleyball players that also have some experience with basketball in the past,” Rosen said. “They wondered if we would be interested, and certainly, we want to help out any we can.”
Rosen thinks that his players’ attributes as volleyball players are similar to those of basketball players.
“I think they are similar sports because size is a factor,” Rosen said. “We tend to have similar body-type players, that are big physical kids and jumping is a big priority.”
He isn’t worried about their transition to the hardwood.
“Obviously, shooting touch and ball control are the main differences between the two games,” Rosen said. “But all three of those kids had a pretty good playing background in high school.”
The mounting injuries have also caused position shifts. Freshman forward Ashley Jones will rotate from small forward to power forward.
“I always like to post people up, so it’s nothing new,” Jones said. “My coaches needed me down there. I played post in high school, so I’m familiar with both the three and the four.”
Tonight against No. 7 Ohio State, Michigan will try out its revamped roster for the first time.
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