MADISON—Janese Banks practiced with her University of Wisconsin women’s basketball teammates this weekend on a limited basis, but the Badgers’ starting point guard is expected to miss her fifth consecutive game tonight, when UW hosts Eastern Illinois.
Banks originally injured her left foot in the second half of UW’s loss at Minnesota Jan. 5, but she remained in that game and played 39 minutes. This is the first time that Banks has ever missed significant time due to an injury at any level of basketball.
“Last year I got hurt in the preseason but I didn’t miss any games or anything,” Banks said. “This has definitely been a different adjustment.”
On Friday Banks and coach Lisa Stone sounded optimistic that Banks would be able to play tonight. But the Wisconsin State Journal reported Monday that Banks will not play against the Panthers.
“They told (me) this was about how long it was going to take,” Banks said Friday. “But when I first did it I’m thinking, ‘OK, it’s a minor sprain, a couple, maybe two, three days.’ I definitely didn’t think it would take this long.”
Despite missing four games, Banks is still second on the team in both scoring average (13.7 points per game) and total points (192). Her 4.6 assists and 2.4 steals per game are team highs and she is also third on the team in rebounding (5.6 per game).
The Badgers are 0-4 with Banks out of the lineup and are mired in a five-game losing streak.
“I don’t like (sitting out) but it’s something that I’ve had to do for the team,” Banks said. “My main thing that I’ve tried to go by is right now it’s not about me… I don’t want anybody worried about me. It’s about the team out there. And it’s about the team playing well for each other and playing well for this university.”
Still, this is a new experience for Banks, and it has been frustrating to be stuck on the sideline.
“It’s been difficult. I’ve kept it kind of bottled inside,” Banks said. “Nobody’s really seen the wrath of my frustration. I’ve still been there for my team. I’ve still been talking in practice. But it’s definitely difficult to have to sit back and cheer from the sideline when you are used to contributing. So I just have grown as a person and (I am) learning to contribute in other ways.”
“I’m just there to pump them up, get them ready, let them know what I see, encourage them just to do their best out there,” Banks added. “I think that’s the role that I’ve had to assume right now.”
While she has been injured, Banks has assumed a spot on the UW bench, watching the games in street clothes. She is trying to use her time off the court to learn how she can contribute better when she returns.
“It’s hard for them out there,” Banks said. “They’re trying but sometimes you’ve just got to dig deeper than what you may want to dig. I’ve just been trying to get out of my teammates to give it all they got the whole time they’re out there.”
What: Wisconsin (6-12 overall, 1-6 Big Ten) v. Eastern Illinois (8-10 overall, 7-4 Ohio Valley)
When: Monday, Jan. 23 at 7 p.m. Central.
Site: Kohl Center (17,142) in Madison, Wis.
Broadcasts: UPN14 will televise the game live. Wisconsin Public Television will show the game on tape delay. WIBA 1310 AM will broadcast the game live on the radio.
Series notes: Wisconsin leads the all-time series 3-1. EIU defeated the Badgers in Charleston, Ill. in 1982. Wisconsin has won the last three meetings, all in Madison.