Carson Stays Determined

Essence Carson confides with analyst Ros Gold-Onwude about how her recent shooting slump and falling out of the starting line-up affect her as she tries to successfully comeback from an ACL injury. How does your knee feel?
Essence Carson: The knee itself is great. I have no pain and itís strong. All of that stuff is greatÖ

NYL: What do you think is at the core of the rough patch youíve hit this season?
EC: Itís more the mental side. I call it getting back into the flow of the game. Getting in there and doing the things I used to do. I want to not worry subconsciously and to trust that my knee is nice and healthy and strong. I know that my knee is healthy but the knee still braces itself. When I jump in the air on the way down I brace myself. Instead of extending out to be free in the air and grab a rebound I tense up and focus on coming down. Iím constantly bracing.

NYL: This season youíve rarely attacked the basket and prefer to shoot the jumper more, is that a conscious decision?
EC: In the moment no itís not. After the game Iíll see it or someone will tell me and show me that Iím not driving anymore. Obviously I donít want to play that way. Today in practice was a good day for me because I was reacting out there instead of bracing.

NYL: Which is coming easier to you: offense or defense?
EC: Both sides have struggles. I think Iím a little better on the offensive side, minus the fact that Iím not driving. But itís a struggle in both areas especially when I think of where I was and what I used to do.

NYL: You had big expectations for the season, how does dealing with this early adversity disappoint you? What about it surprises you?
EC: Of course Iím disappointed when Iím not playing how I know I can and the team is losing and I know that with my contribution it would be a different story. Of course I feel down and put it on my shoulders sometimes. Iím not surprised that Iím having a rough patch... but itís been a very rough patch. Iím more surprised how rough the patch is. You have to expect that when you take a year off, injury or not, that you are bound to struggle at some point whether itís at the beginning or if you hit a wall later.

NYL: Who on the team and coaching staff encourages you and how?
EC: Everyone is very encouraging. Literally every single player and coach talks to me and shares encouraging words with me. I appreciate it.

NYL: You were moved out of the starting lineup, how does that affect your game?
EC: The coaches look at it as taking a step back and allowing me to catch up to the game and analyze things. That can all change too; weíve talked about it. They just want to let my body and mental get used to everything.

NYL: I notice that you have a brace on now, when did you start wearing one and why?
EC: I started to wear it on practice on Tuesday. Iíll try anything. I guess itís supposed to subconsciously help me do things on the court without bracing myself. They say itís worked well with other players. Iíll try it in practice this week and see.

NYL: When you are in the game what are some of the things you like to do to help you find your offensive flow?
EC: I want to be aggressive. Take and make my first shot. Itís more about getting to that open shot. Often getting open for a shot means Iím setting a screen for someone else. When I get an open shot I want to take advantage. I have to be efficient with movements, my shots, and even on defense. I donít feel a problem with making an open set shot. Itís pull-up jumpers or when Iím being chased off screens that I have to be efficient. Sometimes thatís where I hit the rough patch and maybe loose a half step.