CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Despite playing in the post, where physicality is a necessity and contact is constant, Asya Bussie had not suffered a significant injury during a basketball career that led her to West Virginia University.
So, Bussie did not know what to expect when she tore the anterior cruciate (ACL) and medial collateral ligaments (MCL) in her left knee last year.
"My initial thought was, 'This hurts really bad, but I will be fine,' but the pain got worse as the time went on," said Bussie, a 6-foot-4 senior center whose season-ending injury occurred in October 2012 when she jumped for a rebound during the team's second practice. "Even though it hurt, I thought I would be able to get back on the court in a week or two."
WVU Coach Mike Carey knew better.
"I have been through enough ACLs and MCLs, so there was no doubt in my mind what it was," said Carey, who enters his 13th season with the Mountaineers with a 244-141 record. "It wasn't our normal team doctor or surgeon (who examined her knee). He looked at her knee, and he told her straight up she had torn her ACL and MCL. She was very upset."
Carey pulled Bussie aside and consoled her. He still remembers their conversation.
"Is there not a pill I can take so I can still play?" Carey remembers Bussie asking him. "She had never been injured before, so she had no clue what to expect. I told her, 'No, there is nothing like that. You will be out a year, and you will have to have surgery, but it will be OK. We will get a medical hardship, and you can come back and play next year.' We just had to explain it to her and make her realize it would be OK."
Bussie will make her long-awaited return at 5:30 p.m. Friday, when WVU opens its season at home against Ohio State.
"It was really difficult just sitting out and not being able to help my team," said Bussie, who is one of only 15 players in school history with more than 1,000 points and 500 rebounds. "I'm just really excited to be back out there on the court and be back out there with the team. I think we are going to have a great season. We are excited to get started."
Bussie said facing the Buckeyes in the season opener makes it even better.
"They are a great team," said Bussie, who has 1,044 points, 581 rebounds, 199 blocks and 122 steals in her 103-game career. "I like to start off against a good team because it lets us see where we are and how we can improve."