The Long Road Back

She made a splash as a freshman, being named to the 2012-13 Horizon League All-Newcomer team, but had to sit out most of last season due to a knee injury she suffered in the third game at Western Michigan.

Now, redshirt sophomore guard Rosie Reynolds expects to make a triumphant return to the Titans’ starting lineup after recovering all off-season from the injury.

“It was difficult watching my teammates struggling on the court while knowing that I couldn’t do anything to help them,” Reynolds said.

The injury forced the Canton native to miss the non-conference contest with Michigan at Calihan Hall.

It was something she had an extreme amount of trouble coping with since it took away her chance to prove her worth against a Big Ten team that had reached the NCAA Tournament in back-to-back years prior to last season.

Not to mention, the injury caused her to lose her chance of playing another local, out-of-conference team – this time, a nationally ranked team whose home is located in East Lansing, the Michigan State Spartans.

The Spartans, who routed the Titans, 80-41, in the aforementioned contest last November and finished the season atop the Big Ten standings with Penn State, offered Detroit arguably its toughest test of the season.

From Reynolds’ point of view, unfortunately, she couldn’t take part in it, albeit the outcome of the game was one-sided.

Reynolds’ recovery was a long, grueling process that was eased by the fact that she was able to take part in rehab twice a day on a daily basis.

Due to the constant rehab, she’s 100 percent and has, in fact, been so since August.

At the same time, she’s still trying to regain her explosiveness.

“Some days, the knee is a little bit more sore than other days, but that just comes with the territory of being expected to ‘cut’ more during the course of certain practices,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds took the injury in stride, and actually benefited from being on the bench – as weird as that may sound.

She used her time away from the court to watch the game from afar and to pick up on some of the intricacies of the guard position and of the playing style of her former teammate and the school’s record holder for 3-point field goals, Senee Shearer.

It was a change of pace for Reynolds, after she started all 34 games and averaged a team-high 35.3 minutes per game during her freshman campaign.

The bubbly Reynolds seems ready to place upon herself more of the scoring load – filling the void of Shearer who drained a single-season record 97 3-pointers in 2013-14 – in her return to the starting five of head coach Autumn Rademacher.

Assuming such scoring duties shouldn’t be out of the question either, as the Divine Child High School graduate scored in double figures 10 times during her first year playing for Rademacher and the Titans.

Reynolds believes the flow of the game and the ability of her teammates to score will dictate the amount of pressure put on her to score the basketball on a consistent basis.

After recording a disappointing 6-24 record plus a dismal 3-13 Horizon League mark, the team desires to be more competitive, which specifically can be traced to the team’s increased level of energy and intensity in practice, she said.

Reynolds believes that work ethic is only one thing that the team needs to improve in order to take the next step forward.

The team’s chemistry also needs attention, and she and her teammates have been doing more activities together on a regular basis.

Additionally, getting everyone on the right page will be important in implementing the Titans’ preferred style of offense, which is running it fast up-and-down the floor with the team’s quick and elusive guards, such as Reynolds and junior guard Tayelor McCalister, plus sophomore Minisha Frederick-Childress.

Injuries prevented the up-tempo style from coming to fruition for Rademacher and the Titans last season, with Reynolds, McCalister, Frederick-Childress and fellow guard Ellisha Crosby all missing at least five games.

“Last year was like, these people are going to play today and then when we’d play a different team it meant starting an entirely different group of girls,” Reynolds said.

Rademacher used 19 different starting lineups in her sixth year on the sidelines at her alma mater.

Subsequently, last year, in a way, was a rebuilding one for Rademacher and the Titans, according to Reynolds.

Reynolds isn’t worried that she and her teammates will have to endure through such a tough season yet again due to all the experience that last year’s freshmen, like Frederick-Childress and Haleigh Ristovski, garnered through ample amounts of playing time in the absence of Crosby as well as Reynolds.

It’s why Reynolds believes the Titans have a legitimate shot at finishing in the top four in the Horizon League.

The only thing that appears capable of holding the Titans back of a top-four finish is the injury bug, as 2010 Coach of the Year Rademacher has never suffered consecutive losing seasons.

In fact, both times the Titans have finished lower than fourth in conference, the following season Rademacher has led her squads to second place.

The conference, it should be noted, features the 16-time reigning HL regular-season champions in the Green Bay Phoenix. Second place is not the worst that could happen to Rademacher in her seventh year at Detroit.

Finishing tied for last place again and winning only a handful of games for a second straight year would be the worst thing to happen to the Titans and for Rademacher in her tenure at UDM.

A healthy Reynolds and supporting cast, however, should be good enough to prevent that potential nightmare.