Hirt regaining confidence for U women's basketball

  • Article by: RACHEL BLOUNT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 29, 2012 - 6:42 AM

Kayla Hirt, a Gophers forward, has missed two seasons because of knee injuries. But she has finally taken off her knee brace. Summary.

hide

Minnesota's Kayla Hirt

Photo: Bre Mcgee, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Through the first six games of this basketball season, Kayla Hirt wore a cumbersome hinged brace to stabilize the surgically repaired ligament in her right knee. In time, the Gophers redshirt freshman realized it was functioning mostly as a crutch.

Hirt had spent two years recovering from knee injuries that robbed her of her senior season at Bemidji High School and delayed her Gophers' debut. She approached her return this fall with her usual cool, save for a tiny doubt about the strength of her right ACL. Last Saturday, Hirt decided she was sturdy enough -- physically and mentally -- to cast aside that final remnant of two seasons on the sideline.

In her first game without the brace, Hirt showed a glimmer of her old self to help the Gophers (6-1) muscle past Missouri. She scored a career-high 14 points, including 10 in a critical four-minute span late in the game as the Gophers turned a four-point deficit into a three-point lead. Through seven games, Hirt has come off the bench to average 18 minutes and 6.4 points, making strides toward becoming the scorer that coach Pam Borton believes she can be.

The 6-2 forward still hasn't replicated the form that made her a first-team all-state selection in 2010, when she averaged 26 points and 14 rebounds as Bemidji went 25-2 and made the state Class 3A quarterfinals. But her performance against Missouri fueled Hirt's confidence that she can, now that her knees are as strong as her will.

"It finally felt like I was starting to get in the flow of being me again,'' Hirt said of the Missouri game.

She scored eight consecutive points during the Gophers' surge to a 59-54 victory in their third game at the Cancun Challenge.

"That was exciting. I was ready to be put into a situation to help my team win. I knew I'd be able to come back. But even now, I don't know how long it's going to take for me to be that player that I was, to start succeeding in the same ways I used to. I have confidence in being that player again. It just takes time.''

Hirt tore the ACL in her left knee the summer before her senior season at Bemidji. A full year of recovery ended when Hirt was cleared to begin working out with the Gophers in the summer of 2011, and she felt proud of herself for getting through the grind of the first four weeks of practice.

Then she tore her right ACL in mid-October. Again, Hirt took the conservative path, committing nearly an entire year to rehabilitation while still participating in team activities.

Surprisingly, Hirt said, she wasn't nervous before her first college game earlier this month. She is comfortable with the role Borton has given her, to score consistently and be a go-to player late in games. Borton was delighted to see Hirt flash that promise last weekend.

"There is no doubt in my mind that she has the potential to do that every single game,'' Borton said. "If Kayla's got her feet set, if she's got a little bit of room to get her shot off, you know it's going in. She's a great scorer.''

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Los Angeles - LP: C. Frias 2 FINAL
Colorado - WP: J. De La Rosa 16
San Francisco - WP: S. Romo 4 FINAL
Arizona - LP: A. Reed 2
Boston - LP: C. Buchholz 1 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: F. Liriano 9
Toronto - LP: J. Happ 1 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: B. Norris 6
Washington - LP: R. Detwiler 1 FINAL
Atlanta - WP: A. Wood 3
Miami - WP: H. Alvarez 4 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: D. Gee 3
NY Yankees - WP: B. McCarthy 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: A. Cobb 2
Cincinnati - LP: D. Corcino 1 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: K. Hendricks 3
Chicago WSox - LP: C. Sale 2 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: Y. Ventura 6
Cleveland - WP: C. Carrasco 2 FINAL
Houston - LP: B. Oberholtzer 0
Detroit - LP: D. Price 4 FINAL
Minnesota - WP: K. Gibson 8
Milwaukee - LP: M. Fiers 0 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: A. Wainwright 2
Seattle - LP: J. Paxton 0 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: C. Wilson 5
Texas - WP: R. Ross Jr. 6 FINAL
Oakland - LP: S. Doolittle 1
Philadelphia - WP: C. Hamels 5 FINAL
San Diego - LP: E. Stults 2
Tampa Bay 7:25 PM
Atlanta
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
(5) Auburn 6:30 PM
(20) Kansas State
Connecticut 9/19/14 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Toronto 9/19/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Edmonton 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.
Sep 27 - at Michigan TBA
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern TBA
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings and Gophers do this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close