The Worst Thing That Could Happen

By Jeff Lippman - February 07, 2008

For Tennessee, the unthinkable almost happened.

Candace Parker is hurt. The All-American Player of the Year suffered an apparent knee injury - these things have been going around, haven't they? - in tonight's game against Mississippi State.

It wasn't a pretty sight when Parker grimaced, held her left leg in pain and hopped off the court with a trainer under each superstar arm with 3:09 left in a game the Lady Vols won 87-69 but played poorly throughout.

For the Lady Vols, it was downright ugly.

So what would it mean for No. 2 Tennessee if Parker got hurt? Well, if Parker was too seriously injured to play the rest of the season, if she - gasp! - tore her ACL, that's it. Game over. Tennessee can't win another title without her. Not now.

I'm sorry Lady Vols fans, it's true. They can't beat Connecticut without Parker, who are we kidding? They can't beat LSU without her.

She is more important to her team than any other player on any other team in the country.

Now, I know what you are thinking, Tennessee is a great storied program that is bigger than any one single player. Yeah? Not this player. Not this team.

Who becomes your go-to scorer? Shannon Bobbitt? Freshman Angie Bjorklund? Alexis Hornbuckle or Nicky Anosike? These are all excellent players, but most of them work so well because Parker is on the court to distract the defense. Bobbitt and Bjorklund get open looks from deep and Hornbuckle and Anosike are free to roam inside when Parker is in the game.

Another problem that arises is the fact that Tennessee wasn't really a very big team with Parker, without her 6-foot-4 frame, they are just small.

Fortunately, the folks in Knoxville don't have to think about Parker being hurt - at least not right now - because the good news is that Parker was checked out by the team's trainer and an orthopedic surgeon after the game and was told her knee is "solid" and will be listed as day-to-day.

She most likely won't miss too much time, but it just goes to show how fragile a team's season can become when faced with an injury to the right - or more appropriately, wrong - person.

Exhale Lady Vols fans. Exhale.

Posted by Jeff Lippman at 10:22 PM on February 07, 2008

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