During her final year at Kansas, Danielle McCray tore her ACL and spent the remainder of the season rehabbing from the injury. The Connecticut Sun selected McCray seventh overall in the 2010 WNBA Draft, knowing full well that she would need the entire season to continue her rehab. McCray spent the season doing just that and providing blog entries and updates for WNBA.com along the way.
Currently overseas in Israel as a member of Rishon Le-zion, McCray is excited to get back on the court to compete for the first time since suffering the injury. In her Q&A with WNBA.com, McCray talks about her final season at Kansas, what it took to rehab from the injury and what she plans to bring to the Sun in 2011.
WNBA.com: You spent the whole WNBA season blogging about you knee injury and all of the rehab you went through to get back into playing shape. So now youíre overseas in Israel and back on the court, how are you feeling overall?
The Sun selected Danielle McCray seventh overall in the 2010 Draft
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images
Danielle McCray: Overall, good. I just feel like Iíve come a long way. Just a long, long journey. When I tore my ACL it was real tough. Going through those stages of just rehabbing and not being able to play and then not being able to play in the WNBA in the upcoming season that they had, it was tough. Just at this point right now Iím really thankful and Iím blessed that I still have the opportunity to play again in the same situation.
WNBA.com: And of course, playing overseas for the entire offseason gives you the chance to get back into the game and find your shot so youíre ready for the start of the 2011 WNBA season.
DM: Exactly. That was the good part about it too. I mean, I was kind of nervous just to play again. Obviously you havenít played in six months you lose that feeling, you lose that feeling of the game, but Iím just glad to play over here just to get a full season in and just get everything back before the WNBA starts. Itís something good to be able to play over here and get back rolling before the WNBA season.
WNBA.com: When it comes to running or jumping, are you thinking in the back of your head, ďMy knee, my knee, my knee?Ē Orare you at a point where youíre comfortable enough with it that you donít even give it any thought?
DM: Not really. I mean, maybe certain situations. I tore it while I was in the air. I jumped up in the air and landed funny. I really donít think about it as much as I thought I would. And previous players that have torn their ACL, and Iíve been around my point guard in college, she tore her ACL, and she told me she always thought about it. It was mental for her. I think the whole thing about just missing basketball; I used to play all the time and not being able to play for six months and then being able to play again, that kind of helped me get over it mentally. Sometimes when I maybe do the same move that I tore it on, like jumping in the air and landing, which is all the time, I kind of think about it. But not really. Not as much as I thought I would.
WNBA.com: Well hopefully my question doesnít make you start thinking about it moreÖ
DM: (Laughs) No, a lot of people ask me that. Theyíre like, ďYou donít think about it?Ē or are you wearing a brace or anything like that, but I really try not to. Iím really confident that I rehabbed well enough so everythingís fine.
WNBA.com: Letís talk about that rehab. Iím kind of curious to hear what that was like for you, outside of what you blogged about during the season. What has it been like since taking that first step in rehab to where you are now?
DM: When I first started after I tore my ACL I had to rehab before surgery. So when I tore my ACL I had to still try and strengthen my quad and my hamstring prior to surgery just due to the fact that the doctors want you to have a strong quad and stuff before they cut you up. So I did that for a little while for two weeks and then I had my surgery right after that. And after surgery, I was just thankful just to do it around the time when I was still in practice [at Kansas] and I was still around people that cared and would look over me and help me rehab. I did it when we were still in season, so when the team practiced for three hours I was rehabbing for three hours. Some people do it when the seasonís over and things like that and itís kind of hard to be focused and be motivated to rehab and do it every day when nothingís going on, so luckily I did it around when we were playing. I did it in the mornings before my class and during practice. So I watched practice and did my rehab during practice too. And I had my teammates that I was cheering on while they were practicing and then they would do the same and cheering me on while I was on the sideline so we had kind of a bonding time too and it helped me get through some tough times that I had.
WNBA.com: Have you talked with Coach Mike Thibault during this time and taken part in any team activities with the Sun?
DM: During that time I flew out [to Connecticut] I was up there for a week each time I was there, and while I was there I did rehab with the trainer and I watched them practice and then I would just hang out with the girls and go out to eat and just hang with them. Just to meet them and hang around with them because theyíre going to be my future teammates, so I thought that was a good idea that Coach Thibault though of just to see what it was like to watch practice and just hang around the girls. I didnít want it to be like when I come there this year itíll be brand new, so itís cool that I know them and know of them.
WNBA.com: Looking forward to next year, what is it you think you can bring to the team to help send them to the postseason?
DM: My versatility, as far as a big guard, strong guard, a guard that can post up and go in and rebound on the boards, shoot from the outside and take it to the rim. I just think overall just versatility can do a lot at the two, three position.