When Xavier head coach Kevin McGuff snagged Indiana's top player in 2006, it was considered a major coup for the then new mid-major coach. North Central's Amber Harris became the building block for what has become a strong, Indiana-based team that includes some of the Hoosier state's best talent over the past few years. The 2008-09 season is the season the Musketeers have been waiting for, with all of the major pieces in place. Now this long-awaited season has been tempered with a knee injury to Harris, which might keep her out for the remainder of the season.
According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, the preseason All-American had surgery on Friday for a displaced piece of cartilage in her left knee, as well as an injury near the knee joint. Harris injured her knee during practice this past week. It is expected that she will miss 3-4 months because of the injury and it is as yet undecided if she will redshirt for the entire season or not.
If there is a silver lining in what is a dark cloud over the Musketeer program this week is that Harris's absence in the lineup will open up opportunities for others on the roster, including Merrillville grad and Gulf Coast Community College transfer Brittney Moore. She will be called upon immediately to fill a need in the post, giving her an opportunity to develop much more quickly. Also, if it is decided that Harris should redshirt for the entire season, this gives the Musketeers two more years after this season when Harris and teammate Ta'Shia Phillips can continue to pound opponents in the paint.
Xavier will still be a considerable threat this season, while using this year's misfortunes to build for next year. With the addition of Dee Dee Jernigan (East Chicago) to the roster, the Musketeer backcourt will be much improved. South Bend Washington's Jerri Taylor has been a mainstay in the Xavier backcourt and adding Jernigan will give them a huge boost. But replacing the versatile inside-outside presence of Harris will be a big task. The All-A10 player averaged 15.3 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game as a sophomore. She led the Musketeers to back-to-back Atlantic 10 championships. Photo courtesy of strempkagallery.com.
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