Saturday, December 24, 2005

The Focus Today Is On Women's Collegiate Basketball -- Carol Ross's Place In History And Stacy Schlapkohl's Injured Knee

Women's collegiate basketball is on the minds of a couple of readers today.

Here's the first e-mail, written by "A Loyal Reader:"

"Hi Ron,

"As a former Iowan and Des Moines resident, I love your blog and the issues you raise.

"In regards to your recent notes about Chuck Schoffner, I would likethe submit the following from the past week that came from him ...


Ole Miss, BC join women's poll
For The Associated Press

Carol Ross achieved a unique double with Mississippi's appearance in The AP women's basketball poll, which again had Tennessee, Duke and LSU in the top three spots.

Mississippi, which gained attention with an upset of then-No. 7 Rutgers last week, joined the poll Monday at No. 24 -- the first time the Lady Rebels have made the Top 25 since the final rankings of the 1995-96 season.

Ross [pictured at the lower right], in her third season at Ole Miss, becomes the first in the women's game to have played for and coached a ranked team at the same school. She was a four-year starter for coach Van Chancellor at Mississippi from 1977-81.

"I think anytime you can do something positive and unique and it takes place at your alma mater, it makes it all the more special," Ross said. "I think most people are drawn to and want to give back and do something for their alma mater and it's rare when you have an opportunity to actually do that."

Boston College also joined the poll for the first time this season, moving in at No. 23. North Carolina State and UCLA dropped out.

Tennessee (9-0) received 33 of 45 first-place votes from a national media panel and had 1,111 points to lead the poll for the third straight week. The Lady Vols beat Louisiana Tech 83-59 in their only game last week.


Correction: Women's Bkb Poll story
Eds: Members who used BC-BKW--T25-Women's Bkb Poll, sent Dec. 19 without a dateline, are asked to use the following story.

By The Associated Press

In a Dec. 19 story about Mississippi joining the AP women'sbasketball poll, The Associated Press erroneously reported that Mississippi's Carol Ross was the first in the women's game to have played for and coached a ranked team at the same school. She was the fourth coach to accomplish that feat.

Back to what "A Loyal Reader" wrote:

"So not only was his story wrong, from the lede on down, it wasn't even close to being right (first coach vs. fourth coach). It sounds like he needs to concentrate on getting basic facts right in his stringer work for the AP, and not on seeing how many blogs he can put together for the Register."

A Loyal Reader

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: "A Loyal Reader's" e-mail came a couple of days after I had written that Schoffner was responsible for five blogs a week for the Des Moines Register on the four major-college basketball teams in this state -- Iowa State, Iowa, Drake and Northern Iowa. Schoffner, 55, spent 33 years as a sportswriter for United Press International and the Associated Press before retiring recently. This must have been an unusually tough week because I've always known him to be an accurate reporter].


Bud Appleby of Des Moines sent this e-mail about Iowa basketball player Stacy Schlapkohl and the problem women players have with knee injuries:


"Stacy Schlapkohl [upper right], an Iowa basketball player, has apparently torn a ligament in her knee. If so, that would make her the third member of this year's team to have that injury.

"And it adds to the already very large number of players on women's teams in the state who have suffered similar injuries in recent years.

"Studies have determined that women basketball players are far more likely to sustain such injures as men.



"I'm wondering if young girls -- or their parents -- are told of such risks when they are considering getting into the sport."

Bud Appleby

Here's one of the articles that was done on knee injuries sustained by women's players:

SAN FRANCISCO, Sep 21 (Reuters) -- Women have a much higher risk of a serious knee injury than men, according to one expert.

"More women are playing sports now than ever before, but even greater numbers are getting hurt," said study co-author Dr. Charles Blackadar, a resident at the Puget Sound Family Residency Program in Bremerton, Washington. He spoke on Friday to delegates attending the 50th Scientific Assembly of the American Academy of Family Physicians, held in San Francisco.

One serious knee injury involves the anterior cruciate ligament, a fibrous band of tissue that lies deep within the knee, and helps to connect the thighbone (femur) to the shinbone (tibia). Its main function is to provide stability to the knee, essentially preventing it from popping forward.

In an interview with Reuters Health, Blackadar said that he began to notice that more and more female athletes were coming to him with anterior cruciate injuries (ACIs). "It's a rather common occurrence," he said. In fact, National College Athletic Association experts now estimate that female basketball players have a six times higher risk of ACI compared with male players.

Blackadar says many athletes never return to their previous level of function after injury to the anterior cruciate ligament. "ACI can be quite debilitating, often requiring surgery to get a reconstruction of the ligament," he said.

So why are ACIs more common -- and more serious -- in women, as compared with men? Blackadar and other experts have a few theories. "Certainly one reason is that women tend to get less coaching, training, use of the athletic facilities" than men, he said. "We've known for a long time that people in better shape tend to get injured less."

But Blackadar adds that ACIs are still more common among highly-trained 'elite' women athletes than among super-fit men. "So we suspect that physiological differences exist." He speculates, for example, that the broader hips of women may cause them to land at more of an angle after a jump, compared with men, "which could put more stress on that ligament." He also pointed out that "per pound, women tend to have less muscle mass in the quadriceps and the hamstrings, which are generally considered protective of the anterior cruciate."

Active women can work to reduce their risk of ACI, Blackadar said. Researchers at the University of Cincinnati have found that "jump training" -- a combination of stretching, weight training, and jumping exercises favored by Russian gymnasts -- have gotten their injury levels "down to the level of male athletes," Blackadar pointed out. And in general, he says women with long athletic histories are better protected against these types of injuries than are women who've just started to play vigorous sports.

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: Let's hope the medical people can reach some positive solutions to knee ailments among players--both women and men. It's tough to hear of so many players being sidelined, and hopefully there will be some answers sooner rather than later].