March 25, 2019 | 44° F

Canty returns to court after knee, heart surgeries


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Sophomore guard Briyona Canty was sidelined for all but seven games last year with a season-ending knee injury. She also needed open-heart surgery in the offseason in rehabbing. Canty was the top point guard recruit in the nation in 2011 and looks to finally tap into her potential this season.


The injury bug bit the Rutgers women’s basketball team last season.

One of the hardest hit was sophomore guard Briyona Canty, who not only was sidelined with a left knee injury, but also required open-heart surgery in the offseason.

Canty was highly regarded out of Trenton Catholic. She was the nation’s top guard in her class and the sixth-best prospect overall in 2011, according to ESPNU HoopGirlz.

She was also a McDonald’s All-American and a Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Association All-American.

With the hype that followed her out of high school, Canty was expected to be the next great Scarlet Knights’ point guard in a long line of them.

“Seldom do we see the player that was in high school, in college, at least initially,” Stringer said. “But she’s been very impressive. She’s been focused and I think we’re all in for a pleasant surprise from her.”

Spending most of her freshman year behind fifth-year senior point guard Khadijah Rushdan, who would become a second-round choice in the 2012 WNBA Draft, Canty still appeared in 28 games, earning six starts.

She showed flashes of her high school brilliance in the San Juan Shootout at the beginning of the season.

Playing in Puerto Rico, she recorded 9 points, seven rebounds and an assist in 32 minutes against Arizona State. She topped that game in January with 10 points against Pittsburgh on 5-for-6 shooting. She added four rebounds and two assists in the win.

Canty looked poised to make a large impact on the Knights last season, starting the first three games at the point. She played at least 18 minutes in all of those games, dishing out five assists in the opening loss at No. 10 Georgia.

But she came off the bench the next two games before sitting out against Long Island. In the following game against Louisiana Tech in the Maggie Dixon Classic, Canty went down with the knee injury that would keep her out for the season. Before her injury, the Knights were already struggling at 4-3 with Big East play just under a month away.

“I’ve really just been working on strengthening those muscles around the knee, my quad and really my calves,” she said of her rehab the past several months. “That’s mainly what I’ve been doing a lot — a lot of leg strengthening.”

Her teammates found the injury may have even made the redshirt sophomore a better player.

“She’s gotten better because she had time to work on her shot,” said junior wing Benijah Laney. “She’s still at the same pace and if anything it made her better.”

But Canty had minor setbacks and believes she will continue to have them.

“I had my first problem because it got swollen just from me playing,” she said. “The doctor said it would come and go but I just get it drained.”

Aside from the occasional swelling, she has seen a steady improvement since her surgery last year.

“It’s a lot better than last year,” she said. “I feel a difference between last year when I was playing in pain and this year now I’m really enjoying myself out there on the court because I’m not playing in pain.”

Do not expect monumental changes in Stringer’s offense, but this year the team will attempt a faster, up-tempo one.

The initial question concerning Canty is how this would affect her knee. She believes her role on the team will be the same as pre-injury.

“It’s similar to what it’s been. It’s the same for everybody. Just stand up, be a leader and be true to each other and work hard,” Canty said. “If you see something, speak on it, for us to stay consistent and work as hard as the team we can be.”


By Justin Lesko

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