Carli Tritz’s aching knee and sore back will keep her out of some practices this season for the Creighton women’s basketball team.
Coach Jim Flanery said his staff will have to be smart and give Tritz time off when she needs it. It is a similar plan that the Creighton men’s team follows with Grant Gibbs, who has been plagued throughout his career by nagging knee problems.
Of course, that leads to some inevitable comparisons.
“Everyone tells me I’m the Grant Gibbs of the women’s team,’’ Tritz said with a hearty laugh. “It seems like the only time I see the men’s coaches is when I’m sitting out of practice. They’ll say, ‘Missing practice? You and Grant Gibbs should get together.’
“I don’t know if being the Grant Gibbs of the girls’ team is a good thing. I’ll feel better if you put that he’s the Carli Tritz of the men’s team.’’
Much like the men’s team needs to keep Gibbs healthy enough for games, Flanery needs Tritz in the lineup for his team. The junior guard led the Bluejays in scoring last season, and has been one of the team leaders in assists, steals and hustle plays in each of her first two seasons in the program.
Tritz said her back injury is a muscle problem.
“Nothing serious like my knee,’’ she said. “It’s not going to be a huge issue.’’
Her knee problems is partly the result of the grind of a lifetime in athletics. She was a three-sport star in high school for Sioux City Heelan. She needed surgery to repair a cartilage problem before her sophomore season but missed just one game, and that was because of illness.
“I can’t have any more surgeries on my knee,’’ Tritz said. “The next surgery I get will be career-ending, so I’m just going to have to play through it. I know I’ll need to talk and communicate with the coaches as far as when things are going good or bad.
“I take full advantage of the off days. I’m still in the training room getting treatment. It’s as good as it can be.’’
Tritz’s health issues makes Flanery glad that the NCAA allows women’s basketball teams 40 days to get in 30 practices prior to the start of the season. That allows a little flexibility in the practice schedule and a chance to string some early-season days off for Tritz.
“It’s good for us because we have some chronic stuff like Carli’s knee and McKenzie Fujan and Jordan Garrison have had some back issues,’’ Flanery said. “It gives us the luxury of taking some days off instead of feeling like you have to go five or six days in a row.
“What I like about it is that you can fit it around what’s best for your team. We don’t need to go three hours in practice because we have plenty of time.’’