Brittany Dalton has performed remarkably well through an injury-plagued university basketball career and while physical setbacks may have curtailed her potential, coach Doug Partridge believes she has done a remarkable job under the circumstances.
Dalton, who plays with a brace on her right knee due to tears in her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) over the years, acknowledged she’s had her ups and downs, but adds, “I’m used to it now and, really, there’s nothing I can do about it.”
She is the third Dalton sister to play varsity hoops for the Sea-Hawks, and this weekend will be a key figure in Memorial’s hopes for an Atlantic University Sport (AUS) conference title.
The Sea-Hawks play host to the tournament at the Field House. MUN is scheduled to take on Acadia Axewomen in a quarter-final 8 o’clock Friday night. Saint Mary’s and St. Francis Xavier meet in the other quarter at 6 p.m.
In her Memorial Sea-Hawks rookie campaign, Dalton, the former Roncalli Cardinals high school star from Harbour Main, tore the ACL in her her right knee in a game against Dalhousie Tigers Jan. 13, 2007 at the Field House.
It was the same knee on which she had arthroscopic surgery in high school, and it meant the end to her season.
Then she tore the same ACL in a late November game this season against Saint Mary’s Huskies, in which she scored 16 points and had 14 rebounds, and missed the second game of the series.
Dalton admitted she was “super conscious” of her knee affecting her play.
“Getting used to the brace, and knowing I’m restricted, was something I had to deal with,” said Dalton, who watched her older sisters, Amy and Meaghan, star at Memorial. “Once I got used to that, then I know that every now and then it’s going to hurt and some days it’s not.
“I think Doug sort of knew that I was becoming conscious of it, too,” she said. “There were days when I didn’t go to the net like I should and I started hanging out at the three-point line a bit more.
“Then, I decided that I’d just go at it in practice. I decided to get into it and if I tweaked it, then that’s what’s going to happen every now and then. That’s what I’ve got the brace for, and it’s helping me out.”
Partridge feels Dalton has more left in the tank despite the numerous setbacks.
“It’s been a frustrating career for her in some ways and that’s really unfortunate,” he said. “I think she was in line to have a huge year. She was averaging a double-double for the first half of the season. She was averaging 16 points and 10 boards a game out of the point guard spot and then her knee went again.
“All that said, she has to feel really good about the year she’s had. She put up good offensive numbers and played great D.”
What’s unfortunate, said Partridge, is that Sea-Hawks players, opponents and fans didn’t get to see what Dalton really could have been if she’d been healthy throughout her career.
“But I don’t think you can say she didn’t reach her potential when the kid’s playing on one good leg and is still putting up all-star numbers,” he said.
Dalton, who was tops on the team in assists (59), second in free throws made (49), second in rebounds (124) and first in steals (32), said she hasn’t decided if she’ll return for her fifth year.
She only has two business courses remaining after this semester, but she is considering upgrading some courses.
She did say she would lean towards returning if MUN won the AUS championship this weekend.
“I’d love to see her back,” said Partridge. “I think she has one more year in that leg.”