The Most Important Knee

By Jeff Lippman - February 03, 2008

Sylvia Fowles is injured...again.

Super Bowl Sunday wasn't so super for LSU's 6-foot-6 center. Despite her team defeating Florida in Gainesville, 85-71, the All-American was forced to leave the game early in the second half after re-injuring her right knee, the same she recently had surgery to repair.

LSU coach Van Chancellor's heart must have been in his throat when he saw his star go down again. Fortunately, the injury isn't considered too serious, as Fowles attempted to re-enter the game with 4:50 left until Chancellor basically said, "Not on your life," and told her to take a seat.

Chancellor knows any chance the Tigers have at reaching their fifth consecutive Final Four rests squarely on the health of Fowles and her right knee and he wasn't going to take the chance of her getting injured further.

"Sylvia's knee is getting treatment," Chancellor said after the game. "She could've played but I didn't want to take a chance. For those that don't know, she hurt her knee Dec. 19th and missed three games and we've had her back. That's the first problem we've had and I didn't want to take a chance. If it [the lead] would've gotten down to 10, I would've put her back in."

The question was asked after Fowles' surgery whether she could return and be the same player she was before. Well, Fowles answered that question by recording four double doubles in her next seven games. But, one still has to wonder if this second issue with her knee doesn't put the thought that it could go at any time in the back of her mind.

Basketball is as much a mental game as it is physical and if Fowles is afraid to challenge for blocked shots and rebounds, she won't be the same player and won' t be nearly as effective.

Yes, the Tigers are a senior-laden team and they did quite well against the Gators even in Fowles' absence. However, during the time she missed because of her surgery the Tigers suffered their last defeat against Middle Tennessee State.

LSU is a Final Four contender with Big Syl at center and a middle-of-the-road SEC team without the long and lean post player. And nobody knows that better than Chancellor.

Posted by Jeff Lippman at 03:16 PM on February 03, 2008

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