An offseason of worry may be inching to a close for the Binghamton University women’s basketball team, at least after Tuesday night.
As head coach Nicole Scholl addressed the media following the team’s blowout exhibition win over Mansfield University, concerns regarding the status of star guard and senior Andrea Holmes proved surprisingly minimal, mainly thanks to a new player on Binghamton’s roster.
Sophomore Vaneeshia Paulk, a 5-foot-4-inch transfer student from East Georgia College, eased those worries with her play against Mansfield.
Holmes tore her ACL in the second-to-last regular season game of the 2010-11 season and missed the team’s final contest before being forced to sit out the entire America East tournament.
And as recently as early October, Holmes said she had still been feeling a “great amount of pain,” leading many to question whether she would be ready once the season tipped off.
But prior to Tuesday’s exhibition at the Events Center, Holmes was dressed and fully participated in team warm-ups. Despite sporting a brace on the injured left knee, she said the knee did not present any issues.
“Honestly, it felt like I never left,” she said. ìI’ve been playing around at practice a lot over the last month, and with the knee brace I feel really comfortable out on the floor and I don’t think my knee came across my mind once.”
In 13 minutes against Mansfield, Holmes scored six points while dishing out three assists. She said percent-wise, she felt she was in the “high 90s.”
“[I’m] getting there,” she said. “Still not quite there yet, but making a peak and almost at the top.”
Since a press conference regarding the injury in early October, Scholl has discussed the importance of limiting Holmes’ playing time early on.
And following a 10-point, four-assist performance from Paulk on Tuesday, the head coach’s job may have just become a lot easier.
While Holmes has typically led the team in points throughout her Binghamton career, Paulk’s speed and passing skills now present the team with a different type of point guard.
“Watching Vaneeshia play tonight, she added a complete[ly] different dimension than what Andrea does,” Scholl said. “I love the fact that we have two different style point guards right now … and it’s nice too because I can put them on the floor together and Andrea can switch to the two and not have as much responsibility of handling the basketball.”
Prior to her injury, Holmes was among the top-three scorers in the conference. She finished the season tied for fourth, averaging 14.3 points per game while dishing out an average of 3.3 assists per game.
With the team set to open the regular season at home tonight, Scholl is optimistic about her squad’s depth.
“We’ve got a lot of options this year,” she said.