Doty, Baugh, Gemelos where they want to be
Caroline Doty takes the court every day for Connecticut with a brace that stretches from her left upper thigh to her ankle.
Vicki Baugh is a full go at Tennessee practices for the first time since the spring of 2008.
Jacki Gemelos has been back on the court for almost two years now, and her game is finally rounding into a form resembling the one she thought she would play when she got to USC five years ago.
It is an interesting convergence to have three players who have been through so much assuming their spots on the court in the same season.
Among Doty, Baugh and Gemelos there have been 10 ACL injuries, numerous surgeries and months of rehabilitation that have dragged into years. There have been setbacks and letdowns and now, finally, basketball again.
It has taken extraordinary determination and commitment to the game to keep coming back when many others would have called it a career. And it is a testament to improving treatments that these athletes even have the option to return after multiple traumas.
Baugh, the Vols center who is now in graduate school, had a breakout game in a loss to Baylor on Sunday, finishing with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Her speed and athleticism are returning. The double-double was the fourth of her career and her first since December 2008.
Gemelos, a 6-foot guard also in grad school, is USC's second-leading scorer through five games and leads her team in rebounds and assists.
Doty, who sustained her most recent injury just last season and has missed more than half of UConn's games over the past three years because of injuries, is acclimating a little more slowly. The redshirt junior scoring guard is averaging 19.2 minutes and 6.0 points per game, easing back in.
But being out on the floor is enough. It's all any of them ever wanted.
Five on the marquee
1. Oklahoma State. The Cowgirls returned to the court Saturday for the first time since the deaths of coach Kurt Budke, assistant Miranda Serna and two boosters. It had been a wrenching, emotional 13 days since their last game, when they defeated Coppin State 59-35. They will play Alcorn State next Tuesday night. Everyone in college basketball will be rooting for OSU to succeed on the court as the players and coaches move forward.
2. Connecticut. Also known as the place where records live. The Huskies set an NCAA record with their 89th consecutive home win Sunday, defeating Dayton 78-38.
3. Shekinna Stricklen. The Tennessee forward didn't come out on the winning end Sunday against Baylor, but it was still a great performance (25 points and 12 rebounds) as she did everything she could to get the upset for the Lady Vols.
4. Samantha Prahalis, Ohio State. One of the most polarizing players in the game -- you either like her Long Island swagger or you don't. But the Buckeyes point guard is now their go-to player after years of deferring to post Jantel Lavender. Prahalis is averaging 19.6 points per game, but she's dishing as well with 34 assists in five games.
5. Natalie Novosel. The Notre Dame forward had a terrible start against Duke in the Bahamas on Sunday, missing nine of her first 10 shots. But she rallied when it counted, propelling the Irish from a 16-point halftime deficit to a 56-54 win over the No. 6-ranked Blue Devils. She finished with 15 points. The win tied the team record for its largest comeback.
Five names you should know (but probably don't)
1. Jasmine Bailey, Illinois-Chicago. Bailey found her name among some very big company this week when the NCAA statistics made their debut for the season. Bailey, a senior, is currently the No. 4 scorer in the country at 25.2 points per game, behind Delaware's Elena Delle Donne, Stanford's Nneka Ogwumike and Oral Roberts' Kevi Luper.
2. Ki-Ki Moore, Fresno State. She averaged 24 points in the SMU Tournament, shooting 4-of-5 from the 3-point line. Moore, a transfer from Washington State, is in her first season of eligibility with the Bulldogs.
3. Jessica Kuster, Rice. The sophomore forward, who was Conference USA's freshman of the year last season, has jumped out to the NCAA rebounding lead, averaging 13.1 a game, though she may be out until after Christmas after suffering a sprained left foot against Arkansas-Little Rock on Saturday.
4. Jasmine Crew, Seton Hall. Crew scored a career-high 35 points in a 72-69 win over Louisiana Tech in the Paradise Jam tournament in the Virgin Islands, the second-highest single-game total in school history.
5. Kristina Santiago, Cal Poly. Santiago, a senior, missed last season because of a knee injury. In her comeback season, she's averaging 23 points and 12 rebounds a game. But now she's battling an upper-back injury that may keep her out of Wednesday's game against Pepperdine after taking a knee to her spine over the weekend.
1. Delaware made its first appearance in the AP women's basketball poll this week, debuting at No. 24. Thank you, Ms. Delle Donne.
2. Florida State was ranked No. 21 in the preseason national polls, but the Seminoles are staring at a 3-4 record after Sunday's loss to Nebraska. Sue Semrau's team has lost four of its last five, and on Thursday comes another tough date, in Columbus against Ohio State.
3. Virginia went to Hawaii for Thanksgiving, coming off its big win over Tennessee, and lost a pair of what must have been tough games for coach Joanne Boyle. First the Cavs fell to Texas and coach Gail Goestenkors, whom Boyle coached under at Duke for years. And then Virginia was beaten by Cal, the team that Boyle coached for six years before leaving at the end of last season.
4. Speaking of the Longhorns, they opened their season with a home loss against Stanford, and maybe it was a "Here we go again" moment for Texas fans, who want to see this program finally bust out under Goestenkors. But since then, Texas has won five straight, including impressive wins over Virginia and Cal. It will have a big barometer game this week at Tennessee.
5. Tennessee's consecutive losses to Virginia and Baylor mark the Lady Vols' first two-game losing streak since 1990. Middle Tennessee State should be the streak-breaker tonight.