In Mychael Heuer's first year as the women's basketball coach at South Puget Sound Community College, he has endured some unusual setbacks.
Since he was hired in late June, Heuer has lost 15 players either temporarily or permanently through injuries, two car wrecks, sickness and academic ineligibility. Now, with his roster down to four semi-healthy players, the Clippers have forfeited their past two games with the prospect of forfeiting more.
“It’s very frustrating,” Heuer said. “In my 26 years of coaching and 10 years of playing, I’ve never seen a rash of injuries and incidents like this.”
Heuer has endured the expected – two players had knee surgeries. He has handled the hardships – four players were ruled academically ineligible, four transferred and two quit. And he has dealt with the unexpected – two players were hurt in car wrecks, and the team’s leading scorer, Monteaka Norwood, came down with mononucleosis.
Then, as if that’s not enough, Heuer’s assistant coach, Shon Brewster, strained a knee and will have surgery.
“Really, it’s kind of crazy,” Heuer said. “I’m telling people to say away from me. It’s contagious.”
The Clippers’ losses haven’t been only on the roster. The team is winless, losing its first nine games and then forfeiting two straight to drop to 0-11. With 12 games left on its schedule, SPSCC will forfeit a third game tonight at Lower Columbia.
Now, Heuer is hoping to pick up a player or two to finish out the season.
“We haven’t given up,” he said.
Heuer’s season of horrors started in July, just a few weeks after he was hired. Four of his five returning sophomores transferred to Centralia College.
“I was expecting all of them to come back,” Heuer said.
Suddenly, he was down to seven players, forcing him to recruit even more players at a late date.
Then in late October, just a few practices into the season, Courtney Johnson, an all-league player from Black Hills, tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee in a jamboree game and was lost for the season. She was coming back from an ACL tear in her left knee.
“Talk about bad luck,” Heuer said.
In that same jamboree, Norwood suffered a concussion, her third in nine months. She was sidelined for three weeks.
A few weeks later, Heuer lost four players to academic ineligibility.
“That dropped us down to six players,” Heuer said.
The Clippers have played most of the season with six players, forcing others such as Norwood, Alexa Justus, Molly Read and Christiane Croy to play nearly an entire game.
Heuer got more bad news when a doctor recently told Patricia Miller, a freshman from Hanford, that she had a slight tear in the meniscus in her knee. She could still play without the risk of further injury if she could endure the pain. She’s playing.
“We’ve been protecting her. We limit what she does in practice,” Heuer said.
Earlier this month, after a 62-48 loss to Centralia in the Clippers’ last game, Justus, the lone returning sophomore, quit. Then Norwood found out she has mono and will be out for about three weeks.
To fill the gaps, Heuer resorted to on-campus recruiting. Eleven players signed up for the tryout, but only two showed. Ali Shamberg, who played basketball at North Thurston, joined the team.
“That puts me at four,” Heuer said. “Norwood won’t be cleared until the end of the month. That will give me five. I’m hoping two more kids I have names of will pan out.”
It’s been a frustrating year for Heuer and his Clippers, on and off the court.
“I’m going to have 18 players on my roster next year,” Heuer said with a laugh.
TWO SAINTS HONORED
Saint Martin’s has a pair of Great Northwest Athletic Conference player of the week award winners this week – Dara Zack and Blake Poole.
Zack scored 18 points in the Saints’ 61-53 upset win against No. 11-ranked Alaska Anchorage. In two wins, Zack scored a combined 32 points.
Poole scored 26 points and broke his own conference record for rebounds with 24 in SMU’s 85-54 win against Western Oregon in an FSN televised game. Poole has 971 career rebounds and needs four more to move into second on the GNAC’s career list.
Gail Wood: 360-754-5443 firstname.lastname@example.org www.theolympian.com/sports/blog