Column: Bowker’s Injury A Blow To The Bonnies
[Photo courtesy of gobonnies.com]
By Joseph Phelan, Staff Writer, @jphelan13
Injuries to star players and senior leaders can often cripple a team’s chances of surviving and the St. Bonaventure women’s basketball team is already behind the eight-ball.
Senior guard Chelsea Bowker, is set to undergo season-ending ankle surgery which will require at least six months of recovery time.
“It’s big,” Bonnies head coach Jim Crowley said. “Anytime you lose an experienced player and a talented player it is a big thing.”
Bowker was an integral member of the Bonnies Sweet 16 run last season when she averaged 7.1 points per game and shot 3-pointers at a 38 percent clip — second best on the team.
However, after rolling her ankle three weeks ago, she knew it was devastating.
“I went to the doctor and they said it was pretty bad right away,” she said emotionally. “I tried to go and I just couldn’t.”
But Bowker is not going to let the injury hamstring her from helping the team.
“I’m trying to turn this injury into something positive,” the senior said. “I can be on the sidelines to coach these freshmen.”
St. Bonaventure opens the season with an almost entirely different squad after hauling in six freshman. And with the latest injury, they will all be playing significant minutes.
“The freshmen are going to have to step up and help us out,” said junior forward Doris Ortega. “Right now, it is about us building confidence in the freshmen so they can fill Chelsea’s spot.”
And Bowker will be hard to replace.
The senior knew where to be at all times after playing in Crowley’s system and was able to stretch defenses with her 3-point shooting capabilities.
In fact, she ranks seventh all-time in St. Bonaventure history with 146 3-pointers made.
“We are going to need somebody to hit some jump shots cause that was obviously one of her most valuable things,” said Crowley.
Junior Ashley Zahn has now been in the program for three seasons and is someone that can conceivably get the first crack at Bowker’s spot.
Last year Zahn knocked down two threes against Villanova, and so far she has had a good beginning to the season by giving it her all in practice and impressing everyone from the coaching staff to Bowker.
“She has been killing it,” Bowker said of Zahn. “This is her chance to get up and shoot the ball. She just needs to keep her confidence up and put it in.”
It’s tough for any player to have to sit down with injuries, especially when they are a senior in Bowker’s case, but her teammates have helped her out throughout the process.
“They’ve been very supportive,” Bowker said. “We have to take in the best positive manner as we can.”
Despite losing a senior leader, the goals for this St. Bonaventure squad remain the same.
“What we are is what we are,” Crowley said. “People have to understand and build into some things quicker then we thought maybe they have to, but they are up for it.”
And if last season taught us anything, these Bonnies step their games up at the most crucial points and make the impossible into probable.