Womhoops Guru

Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

WNBA Feature: Former Tennessee Star Isabelle Harrison Mended and Playing Well for San Antonio

By Rob Knox @knoxrob1

INDIANAPOLIS – Soaked in sweat, Isabelle Harrison persevered despite the pulsating pain in her right knee and fearing the worst.

Isolated with her trainers, Harrison incessantly worked to erase doubts that she could return to performing at an elite level.

The physical part of rehabbing from a torn right knee ligament was easy for Harrison. The mental part or returning from the injury she suffered during her senior year at the University of Tennessee in 2015 challenged her beyond what she thought was possible.

“Rehab is very gruesome especially if you don’t have the mental mindset for it,” Harrison said after contributing nine points and six rebounds to help the San Antonio Silver Stars beat the Indiana Fever, 79-72, for their first road win of the season, achieved at Bankers Life Fieldhouse Wednesday afternoon before 12,282 fans.

“It can put you in a bad mood. It’s about repetition and repetition. Then it’s about pushing yourself to get better and back to your normal where you were just before you got hurt. It’s not so much about the physical part of it because your body can do it but it’s getting your mind right. You have to be prepared to build your leg back and push off on it even when you’re scared.”

When you’re one of 12 siblings, have a dad, Dennis, who played 10 years in the NFL including with the Philadelphia Eagles and dynamite trainers, Harrison had plenty of support, which accelerated her recovery.

Harrison’s toughness developed at a young age from her family. Knowing she had her brothers and sisters offering encouragement and laughs in an electric group chat kept Harrison going as she rehabbed in solitude.

While many people remember Harrison’s father as a dominant defensive linemen, she remembers him differently.

“I really don’t think about him as a football player especially since I wasn’t in the world yet (while he was playing in the NFL),” Harrison said. “I think about him as a dad first. He’s like a teddy bear to me. He pushed all of us to the limit. If we felt like we wanted to do something, he made sure that we did it.”

In her first year as a member of the Silver Stars, Harrison is thriving, enjoying life, and having fun. Harrison has been a fountain of inspiration for San Antonio during a difficult season.

Radiating with vibrant energy, Harrison is ecstatic to be back on the floor and playing the game she loves at a high level.

“It’s a blessing to be able to step out and do what I need to do to fill my role,” Harrison said. “It was devastating to get injured like I did because you just don’t know if it’s going to be right like before you got injured. Being able to come out and play with my teammates is a blessings.”

The win over the Fever was special for a number of reasons for Harrison.

First, her brother, David, who played overseas, was present. Then, she got the best of her mentor, Candace Dupree of the Fever. Harrison spent time at the homes of Dupree, a former star for Dawn Staley at Temple in Philadelphia, and DeWanna Bonner discussing game plans, and defensive schemes during her rookie year.

“My brother told me before the game today to keep building yourself up,” Harrison said. “Get to a place where the team can rise to their potential because you’re good. It was uplifting to hear that and it put me in a positive mindset. There’s been a lot of low points this year. It’s been hard losing and to find that bright light. I wanted to make sure I was bringing my best self and most positive energy to the team every day even though I am a young player.”

Harrison looks good and is rapidly improving.

Against the Fever, the affable 6 foot, 3 inch center ran the floor like a thoroughbred, jumped like a spry kangaroo for rebounds, deftly finished around the basket, and stepped into passing lanes like a thief. Her relentless activity gave the Fever fits and created mismatches throughout the game.

After being drafted by the Phoenix Mercury in 2015, Harrison defiantly removed her black knee brace before walking to the stage to meet then WNBA commissioner Laurel Richie.

Harrison didn’t play her rookie season. That caused more pain than her knee.

“I got hurt and couldn’t bear weight for six weeks,” Harrison said. “I was back in Knoxville and that’s where I was before going to Phoenix. That was hard especially seeing the people I was drafted with doing well in games. It was hard watching games on TV because I wanted to be in that situation like them.”

Last season, Harrison appeared in 29 games and averaged 3.3 points and 2.2 rebounds in 8.1 minutes. She had a memorable experience playing CCC Polkowice in Poland where he averaged 12.3 points and 6.2 rebounds in 20.3 minutes.

The momentum from her strong overseas season has carried over for Harrison. Averaging 10.6 points and 5.2 rebounds, she has scored in double figures 10 times including a career best 22 points against the Los Angeles Sparks.

Following another solid performance, Harrison was sitting in front of her locker at ease smiling while soaking both of her legs in a large ice bath, eating a granola bar, and scrolling through her light pink phone.

“I am still trying to get better and add different things to my game,” Harrison said. “I don’t think about that though especially when it comes to my team. I like how whatever I can do for the team to get the win today. That’s what I am all about. I know there’s things I have to work on individually, but as long as we’re winning, I’ll get there.”


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just the San Antonio Stars* (No longer Silver Stars)

2:11 PM  

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