Iowa's Taylor and Johnson heal in Game Time

BY TOM CLOS | JULY 12, 2012 6:30 AM

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Coming back from injuries might just be the toughest things athletes face in their careers. Most players encounter this once or twice during their playing days.

But rehabbing has become a routine for Iowa women's basketball senior center Morgan Johnson and redshirt junior guard Theairra Taylor.

The duo, both on head coach Randy Larson's team, is battling through their various afflictions in the Game Time League this summer, and the Hawkeyes are hoping to be at full strength when their season opens in the fall.

"I'm still trying to get the rust off," Taylor said. "You can shoot in the gym by yourself, but there is nothing like being out there in game action."

Taylor tore an ACL for the third time last season, which cost her playing time and caused her to drop in June's Game Time draft. She also underwent a scope procedure recently to remove scar tissue from her leg.

"I had a cyst removed about eight weeks ago," Taylor said. "My minutes in the league have been so-so because of it, but now the minutes are starting to pick up."

Johnson has been bitten by the injury bug throughout her Hawkeye tenure as well. She has been battling patellar tendinitis in both knees recently, which has taken valuable minutes from her not only on the court but in the weight room as well.

"It's been hard limiting your minutes and trying to understand when you can and cannot push yourself," Johnson said. "I'm allowed to play in three minute segments — three times each half."

Tendinitis is different from most injuries in that it can linger for a long period of time and put off a full recovery. Johnson said the Iowa athletics trainers have been working hard with her to make sure no lasting effects are still present by the time the regular season opens.

"We've been trying pretty hard to get it down to a minimal so when the season comes around, I can be at full strength," she said. "It's pretty severe."

Johnson and Taylor were able to combat the pain on Wednesday night. The upperclassmen combined for 25 points and led Cullen Painting over Coralville Hy-Vee, 83-67, in North Liberty for their team's first victory of the summer.

Johnson led her team with 13 points, 5 rebounds and 1 assist, and Taylor added 12, 9, and 4. Taylor was excited to get on the board in the standings and said that the win was truly a team victory.

"I just wanted to rebound out there and make a team for me or my teammates," she said. "It felt good to get our first win and no one player felt as if she had to do it all."

Senior guard Trisha Nesbitt, an Iowa teammate but an opponent Wednesday night, said the injuries were almost unnoticeable.

"Theairra's just coming back from having a 'scope done," Nesbitt said. "She looked to be almost at full strength out there, though."

The victory, while nice, is not the main goal for both players as the Game Time League nears its conclusion. The big picture is focused on coming back yet again from debilitating circumstances, which can only be cured by crucial minutes on the hardwood.

"Right now, the injuries are getting better every day," Johnson said. "Hopefully, by the end of the summer, I'll be back in shape and ready to go for the season."

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