Camry Green didn’t need to watch Don Slater or the Weather Channel to know that the area was in for a snow dump this week. Her left knee provided a plenty accurate forecast.
Christopher Newport’s junior center can live with a balky, barometric knee, provided it also helps launch another championship run.
“My mom watches me play,” Green said, “and she says, ‘You look like you’re playing a lot harder than you did last year.’ I tell her, I’m trying to make up for lost time.”
Green is working her way back into playing shape after missing the first six weeks of the season following arthroscopic surgery to her chronically troubled knee.
She is a welcome and valuable addition for the Captains (15-2, 8-1 Capital Athletic Conference), who are ranked 17th nationally by d3hoops.com. They face league leader and No. 8 York (Pa.) College (18-0, 10-0 CAC) Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Freeman Center — the first game of a women’s and men’s doubleheader.
Green played the past seven games and improves each day. She averages 10 points and six rebounds per game, but in the past three games her numbers are 15.7 points, 8.7 rebounds and 53-percent shooting, while playing approximately 21 minutes per game.
“I thought that when I came back, I could step right in and be where I was last year,” said Green, who estimated that she is at 75-to-80 percent of her peak. “After talking to the coaches and trainers and my mom, I know that wasn’t realistic.”
Green, a stout and mobile 6-foot-1, is the Captains’ only true post presence on an otherwise perimeter-oriented team. She pays dividends at both ends of the floor, particularly for a team that occasionally struggles to rebound.
“If she’s not in there, we become almost a 100-percent perimeter-oriented team,” Coach Bill Broderick said. “You have days where you’re hitting shots and days where you don’t, which makes it tough. She gives us that look, which opens things up for other people outside.”
Green is also valuable on the back line of defense for a team that likes to press and extend into passing lanes.
“We’re able to get after it on defense a little bit more because you know you’ve got that lane-clogger and shot-blocker in there,” Broderick said. “Even though she doesn’t necessarily block a lot of shots, her presence there kind of deters people from going back-door and getting all the way to the basket.”
Green said that she feels little pain and that she doesn’t think about the knee when she’s playing. The biggest concession, she said, is that when she jumps, she has conditioned herself to go up and come down evenly on both feet.
“I’m not as explosive going up,” she said.
Green anticipated building on last season, when she essentially averaged a double-double (11.2 points, 9.9 rebounds) on a team that went 29-3 and made a deep NCAA run. She went through preseason conditioning and practice with little effect, but said her knee buckled during a weightlifting session. It then locked at times when she walked, and when she ran she felt a sharp pain. After a preseason scrimmage, she said her knee swelled considerably.
Season-ending reconstructive surgery was an option, but Green chose to put that off until after the season. She wanted to take another crack at a conference championship and NCAA tournament run with this particular group, which includes seniors Tia Perry, Nicole Mitchell and Andrea Hobbs.
Green rolled the dice and underwent arthroscopic surgery, which was less invasive and had a shorter recovery period. The downside is that her knee could still give out, and her effectiveness is in some ways dictated by her tolerance for discomfort.
Broderick is judicious with her workload in practice and her minutes in games. The Captains have undergone a sizable adjustment with Green’s return, given that they play one way with her and another without her.
“It’s really getting her timing and getting synced up with the group,” Broderick said. “She’s definitely getting better each game. I think she’d probably tell you she’s not quite where she wants to be. If she can continue to stay healthy and finish out the season, hopefully she’ll be playing her best basketball at the end of the season, which is the ultimate goal.”
Green didn’t play in either of the Captains’ losses and eagerly awaits Saturday’s rematch against York, which defeated CNU 75-63 in early December. As she goes through her rehab and therapy sessions, and even this week as she gingerly padded around campus on the ice and snow, she values basketball even more.
“If anything, it really made me appreciate practice,” she said. “Coach always talks to us about using those opportunities to get better. Even individual drills. I missed it when it was taken away.”
Fairbank can be reached by phone at 757-247-4637.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun