Some rough news out of the Muma Center today, as women's basketball guard Andrea Smith will redshirt the 2011-12 season. Smith was third in the Big East in scoring last season, averaging 16.5 points per game on her way to second team All-Big East honors in 2011. The Lake Gibson product, whose twin sister Andrell has been her teammate at both Gulf Coast Community College and at USF, was the leading scorer for the NJCAA national champions at GCCC, and the JuCo National Player of the Year during that title winning season in 2010. The ACL injury that will keep her out this year was sustained in the first round of the 2011 Big East Tournament.
It's a huge loss for a team that has struggled out of the gate early, going 6-5 against a difficult out-of-conference schedule, with two of those losses coming against Top 15 teams. But this might be one case of addition by subtraction. The Bulls should be freaking loaded in '12-'13, returning every player on their roster exempting senior Jasmine Wynne. They'll also add Ukranian junior transfer Inga Orekhova when they play Georgetown in their second Big East game following her NCAA mandated 15-game sitdown for playing on a pro team in her native country (a rule that has since been changed, so if it happened this year she wouldn't have missed a game. As it is, she's forced to sit for 1/4 of her Division I career. Mother of God, how I hate the NCAA.)
Coach Fernandez is never one to pull any punches about the state and direction of his program (as you can see from a previous interview we did with him here), so we'll see if we can get him in here for another chat sometime soon. But from a purely basketball perspective... this might be the college hoops equivalent of tanking to get a better draft pick. By sitting Andrea now, they could be setting up for a serious run next year at the NCAA's next year.