A long, strange trip (cont.)
Posted: Wednesday February 14, 2007 11:33AM; Updated: Wednesday February 14, 2007 4:06PM
Connecticut placed Goring at Arkansas-Fort Smith junior college with the expectation that she would eventually arrive in Storrs with her academics in order and three years of eligibility remaining. Goring redshirted her first year at Fort Smith and, despite a series of nagging injuries, averaged 15.2 points, 8.4 rebounds and 3.7 blocks in her second. While Diana Taurasi and her other erstwhile teammates won NCAA titles in 2003 and 2004, Goring watched on TV, "but only a little of it," she says. "It was kind of tough knowing that was my dream and they were getting it done."
When Goring decided to use her second year of eligibility at Fort Smith, Connecticut stopped recruiting her. She reopened her recruitment and, after earning NJCAA All-America honors in 2005, followed one of her Fort Smith teammates, Tiffany McCollins, to North Carolina State. "I don't think that many people knew she had reopened her recruitment,"says Glance. "Even so, I think a lot of people questioned whether Gillian would really make it. She had had some injuries, and she had been to a lot of schools and had a lot of good coaches. There was some question of about how much Gillian really wanted to do this."
For a player dealing with injury and doubts, Goring couldn't have found a better head coach than N.C. State's Kay Yow, a nurturing soul who is battling breast cancer for the second time. "She taught me to never give up, to fight," says Goring, who spent her first summer in Raleigh rehabbing from surgery on a knee that had been affected by a bad ankle injury she'd suffered in junior college. "I'd go to her with my problems, and she'd counsel me while she was dealing with her cancer. That told me, whatever my problems are, they could be a lot worse. If she can fight through hers, I can certainly fight through mine."
In Goring's first year with the Wolfpack, she averaged 4.6 points and 2.9 rebounds off the bench. "That year was really tough, " she says. "My ankles and my knees hurt, and I wasn't producing like I had been. I got really down on myself."
This season didn't start out much better. After her back surgery in October, she missed the first six games. When she rejoined the team in December, she could only play about 10 minutes a game. Now that she can give the team twice as long, her production is soaring. "I'm still not the player I was, " she says. "But I'm working on it. This is the first time I've felt pain-free in my whole career. I'm having fun."
Goring doesn't think too much about the what-ifs of her career. "I'm really grateful for everything that happened," says Goring. "If I had gone to Connecticut, I wouldn't have had to chance to know Coach Yow and be a part of her life. My career hasn't always gone according to plan, but it has turned out for the good."
Goring is engaged to be married in June, and she'd like to continue her basketball career by playing professionally or becoming a coach. She may not leave college with any of the multiple championship rings her talent once promised, but she will have something she'll cherish even more: a degree in communications. "I stuck it out and I'm on schedule to graduate on time,"says Goring. "That is, by far, the biggest accomplishment of my career."
Fourth-ranked Ohio State may have lost senior guard Brandie Hoskins, the Buckeyes' second-leading scorer, to a season-ending Achilles injury in a win at Minnesota last Thursday, but Coach Jim Foster doesn't expect his team to miss a beat. "This injury isn't Nykesha Sales going down with an Achilles tear on Senior Day (in 1998); it's not Tara VanDerveer losing two stars on the eve of the tournament (also in 1998)," says Foster. "We'll get to play six, seven, eight or nine games before the tournament with this new combination."Foster has replaced Hoskins in the lineup with Ashlee Trebilcock, a UCLA transfer who was a high school All-America. But Trebilcock's not the only Buckeye who will be taking on a new role and getting a chance to shine. "We're not asking one person to do what Brandie did," says Foster. "Brandie had the ball a lot, and she got to the basket and scored a lot. Well, now we have four or five folks who get to the basket and score. We're a little deeper than we have been, and now I think people will start to realize it." Speaking of Buckeye depth ... With the Texas A&M men's team's loss to Texas Tech in College Station on Tuesday, Ohio State is now the only D-I school in the country whose men's and women's basketball teams are both undefeated at home.