Back from a knee injury, Bennett looks to lead on and off court

Jeff Russ

It’s been a while since sophomore Rachel Bennett got on the basketball court for Kent State.

The guard has been through a lot since last Halloween when Bennett lost a promising season by tearing her Anterior Cruciate Ligament and Medial Collateral Ligament in her left knee prior to the season.

Bennett is redshirted, healthy and is ready to make an impact for the women’s basketball team.

“Oh yeah, I’m ready,” Bennett said. “My conditioning level still needs to get up there, but I took a whole year off and it sucked. I’m just ready to get back out there. “

Bennett’s Kent State career began strong two years ago, playing in all 30 games, starting 20. Bennett averaged 5.9 points per game and was named Mid-American Conference Player of the Week after a 23-point game against Ohio.

A threat from both the inside and the outside, Bennett expects a lot of playing time, but said her game still needs work as the season begins.

“Taking a year off, I don’t see as much as I probably should see on the floor when I dribble, penetrate and shoot,” she said. “Defensively, I was out of position.”

Bennett said she put in the work to get back, and she says the injury is behind her.

“I don’t even think about the knee injury anymore; I don’t care, it’s gone, in the back of my head,” Bennett said. “Doctors told me it would be stronger when I came back, and I am trying my best and ready to come back.”

The biggest difference for Bennett is her speed. She is known as one of the Flashes fastest guards, but her biggest worry right now is getting back to the speed she was playing at last preseason.

One area where she thinks her game is strong is her shooting. A threat from 3-point range, Bennett said she worked on her arm strength and is happy with the way she is shooting.

Outside of her on the court talents, the Flashes look forward to her vocal presence.

“I’m a dribble-penetrator, I like to drive and kick the ball out,” she said. “I’m also very vocal. I consider myself the vocal leader on the team. (Asheley Harkins) and I show by example and we expect to be the leaders of this team.”

With so many new faces, the Flashes need a healthy Bennett in the lineup to compete for MAC title. With three years in the system, she thinks she can help young players gel.

“Everybody knows (Coach Bob Lindsay) is a tough coach,” she said. “His expectations of us are always high, nerves get high, and I keep telling everyone he is going to make us better players. I am just always there calming everyone down.”

This is not the first time Bennett’s came back from this injury. In high school, Bennett tore the ACL in her right knee.

She admitted she is nervous to get back on the floor Sunday, but she has confidence in herself and her teammates. Although this injury is more severe, going through it once gives her the confidence to come back again.

“I’ve been through this once, and came back before,” she said. “It was a struggle for me. If it wasn’t for my trainer, I don’t know how I would have come back, but it has been a long time and a long

journey, but I am ready to play.”

Contact sports reporter Jeff Russ at [email protected].