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"The injuries have taken a big toll on us. But I will say this — we're a long way from being counted out. The available players we have are working hard and getting better. . . . They understand the situation, and they're ready to battle to the end."
Xavier Coach Robert "Bo" Browder
Coach Bo Browder
Gold Nuggets try to squash the injury bug
For immediate release . . . December 21, 2006

NEW ORLEANS — About five months ago, Xavier University of Louisiana Coach Robert "Bo" Browder thought his women's basketball team had a great chance to accomplish something special during the 2006-07 season.

Browder still believes it's possible — but he also believes the odds are much stiffer.

Injuries have affected six members of his 17-player preaseason roster, and Browder's Gold Nuggets will enter next week's South Padre Island Shootout at Los Fresnos, Texas, with a 7-4 record. That's not a bad record, but it's a tad disappointing when you consider that Browder's previous two Xavier teams did not suffer their fourth losses until Feb. 19 (2004-05) and Jan. 31 (2003-04).

"There's no doubt that injuries have been a major factor this season," said Browder, whose 177 victories in eight seasons are the most in the program's history. "We've lost two starters (Sheronda Nash and Kojavona Hamilton) and another senior (Victoria Lee) for the season. We have three more players (senior Carla Robinson, sophomore Vyaisha Moss and freshman Miriam Muhammad) trying to get healthy for the conference schedule.

"I don't recall any injury-free seasons here. But I can't think of any which have tested our depth more than this one."

Nash was the starting center and the team's top rebounder from Xavier's 2004-05 team which was 29-5, defeated three NCAA Division I opponents and reached the NAIA National Tournament for the 11th time in 12 seasons. But Nash suffered a knee injury during an August pickup game in her hometown of Montgomery, Ala., and underwent surgery which will sideline her the entire season.

Hamilton, the 2004-05 Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year, also suffered a season-ending knee injury in the second half of Xavier's season opener, a 79-72 overtime victory against Westmont.

Robinson, a returning starter, missed four games because of a concussion. Moss and Muhammad missed two games apiece because of stress fracture. Lee will not play this season because of a knee injury.

"I thought because we had a lot of returning players from '05, we had a great chance to make the NAIA tournament and make a pretty good run there," Browder said. "But the injuries have taken a big toll on us.

"But I will say this — we're a long way from being counted out. The available players we have are working hard and getting better. We still have Jarryn Cleaves, an all-conference player who gives us great leadership. Younger players like Erica Turnbull, Tiffany Norris and LaTashia Wise are stepping up and making a difference. Our players know this won't be an easy season. They understand the situation, and they're ready to battle to the end."

One of Browder's trademarks at Xavier has been to carry overstuffed rosters and find a way to get everyone consistent playing time. This injury-filled season reaffirms that commitment.

"I've always believed in having every player ready to enter a game in any situation," Browder said. "When we put a freshman into the lineup in the middle of a close conference game in February, we trust she won't be scared because she's played significant minutes before that game. That's how you build depth, and that's how you build for the future."

Xavier's immediate future, the trip to south Texas, appears challenging. The Nuggets' Dec. 29 opponent, the Westminster College Griffins of Salt Lake City, Utah, are 10-4 and have won five straight and seven of their last eight games. The next day Xavier will play the unbeaten (14-0) and fourth-ranked University of Montana Western Lady Bulldogs of Dillon, Mont. Both games will tip off at 3 p.m. CST and will be the Nuggets' last before the GCAC opener Jan. 4 at Tougaloo.

 

 
Gulf Coast Athletic Conference
National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics

The Xavier Gold Rush and Gold Nuggets compete in Division I of the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) as a member of the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (GCAC). Xavier fields men's and women's teams in basketball, cross country and tennis.

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