Kristina King entered
Each of her steps was taken quietly and with much caution, almost as to not draw any attention to herself, as she headed for the WVU women’s basketball locker room.
There is no hiding King’s broken right foot, though.
There is no hiding that big, black walking boot that swallows her foot like a snake with a bird’s egg.
And suddenly you realize King isn’t sneaking into the building at all. She’s just trying to walk with as little pain as possible.
“It’s still pretty sore,” the WVU senior forward said before the 15th-ranked Mountaineers’ 74-54 victory against Kansas on Wednesday night.
“I’ve got to get used to putting weight back on it and stop favoring the other foot.”
King missed five games after injuring the foot during a game on Dec. 16, and it’s only because of advancements in medical technology that she’s giving it a go. Her foot is not healed, not completely.
“It’s a steel plate,” King explains. “They take the sole out of my shoe and they put the plate in and then put the sole back on top. It basically keeps my foot from bending. My foot is still whatever; I really don’t know how to explain it.”
And somehow King is able to run and jump and cut with the plate in her shoe.
“When I first tried it on, it made a huge difference,” she said. “When I take the plate out and put my regular shoe back on, I can tell a huge difference.”
Back to that Kansas game for a moment.
In what was just King’s second game back, she grabbed
12 rebounds, just one shy of her career high.
It only reaffirms what those who are close to the game of women’s basketball already know.
Listen, we can argue the differences between the men’s and women’s game.
The women’s game will always pale in comparison when it comes to speed and athletic ability. I get that.
But the men have no more passion or toughness toward the game than the women.
King is proving that.
Twelve rebounds on a broken foot and without the benefit of much practice.
“She basically stays off of it and goes for treatment,” WVU head coach Mike Carey said.
Since coming back, King has played 64 of a possible 80 minutes on a broken foot.
You wouldn’t ask Bruno Mars to sing with a sore throat or for Pablo Picasso to paint with only one color.
WVU is asking King to play well enough to compete with the best in the Big 12 basically on one leg.
“We were struggling offensively, so I had to help out,” she said. “I feel like since I’m back on the court, [she and teammate Teana Muldrow], we’re both a threat. Teams won’t be able to double-team her or use a box-and-one anymore. That’s going to help out a lot.”
As King continues to get healthier, she’ll become more of a plus to a WVU team that still has so much it can accomplish this season.
“The good thing is, her soreness is not where her break was,” Carey said. “We’ll have to keep going day-by-day with her and see how it goes.”
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