Another injury, but no stopping Hornbuckle
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee point guard Alexis Hornbuckle was already playing with an injured wrist when she hit her head on the floor and suffered a concussion against George Washington. She also got hit in the face during the game, causing her nose to bleed.
Despite all the injuries, it will take a lot to keep the sophomore off the court when the Lady Vols take on Rutgers in the regional semifinals in Cleveland on Sunday (ESPN, noon ET).
"They're just being a little extra cautious because if I hit my head again it might be worse, I guess? I'm hardheaded,'' she said with a smile after being held out of practice Wednesday because of the concussion.
She was stripping the ball from another player in Tuesday's second-round win when she fell and hit her head. Coach Pat Summitt said Hornbuckle should be ready to practice Thursday.
Then the No. 2 seed Lady Vols (30-4) are off to Cleveland, their 25th straight appearance in the round of 16.
"She got a concussion. She was out today. We'll evaluate her to see if she'll be back tomorrow,'' Summitt said after practice.
Hornbuckle missed seven games after she broke her right wrist Feb. 12 in a game against Vanderbilt. She had surgery to insert a screw to help the healing, and team officials originally said Hornbuckle would miss the rest of the season. Doctors cleared her to play last week.
Without Hornbuckle, the Lady Vols had no true point guard. The only other one they had -- Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood -- left the team in December and has since transferred to Maryland.
Hornbuckle had started 24 of 25 games until the injury. She came off the bench and played 17 minutes in the Lady Vols' first round 102-54 rout of Army on Sunday, her first game action in over a month.
Wearing a splintlike wrap around her wrist and forearm, Hornbuckle played 24 minutes Tuesday in Tennessee's 66-53 win over George Washington.
"She gives our basketball team a lot of energy. She helps us improve our early offense, our transition, with her ability to push tempo. From that standpoint, it was good,'' Summitt said. "I thought she tried to do a little too much [Tuesday] night. I think she's still trying to get back in the groove.''
Hornbuckle had four assists, two turnovers and four steals against Army. She had three assists, four turnovers and three steals against George Washington.
Hornbuckle had to go to the bench at one point against George Washington after Kimberly Beck hit her in the face and caused her nose to bleed.
It wasn't broken, though -- "Popped a blood vessel,'' Hornbuckle said.
Hornbuckle said she has been able to do more with her wrist than she thought -- from dribbling to shooting. She has grabbed 10 rebounds over two games.
After averaging 10.4 points a game before the injury, she has made only one field goal in the tournament so far.
But she's not bad at the foul line, going 3-for-4 against Army and 4-for-6 against George Washington, after changing the way she shoots it.
"I slide over to the left a little bit because my shot is off. I don't have a follow-through wrist down, so it's not a straight shot,'' she said.
And Hornbuckle is still diving on the floor for loose balls, which is how she broke her wrist.
"I don't even think about it,'' she said. "I guess I'm crazy."
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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