After rash of knee injuries, NIU women's basketball coach seeks reinforcements

  • A rash of knee injuries to players like guard Janae Poisson, above,  has forced NIU women's basketball coach Lisa Carlsen to put out an S.O.S to SES, an innovative company that creates athlete-specific programming and training to help reduce season-ending knee injuries.

    A rash of knee injuries to players like guard Janae Poisson, above, has forced NIU women's basketball coach Lisa Carlsen to put out an S.O.S to SES, an innovative company that creates athlete-specific programming and training to help reduce season-ending knee injuries. Courtesy of NIU Athletics

  • A rash of knee injuries to players like guard Myia Starks, above, has forced NIU women's basketball coach Lisa Carlsen to put out an S.O.S to SES, an innovative company that creates athlete-specific programming and training to help reduce season-ending knee injuries.

    A rash of knee injuries to players like guard Myia Starks, above, has forced NIU women's basketball coach Lisa Carlsen to put out an S.O.S to SES, an innovative company that creates athlete-specific programming and training to help reduce season-ending knee injuries. Courtesy of NIU Athletics

 
 

One major knee injury for a basketball team is a sad.

Two is a darn shame.

Three or more in less than a year and everybody is ready to put out an S.O.S … for SES.

Stability Enhancement Systems, an innovative company dedicated to reducing injury risk in athletes through targeted personalized interventions, was called on by the Northern Illinois women's basketball team last month to come to its rescue, and to help figure out why four players in the last year have suffered serious knee injuries, including leading scorer Courtney Woods last month.

"We knew we needed something," Northern Illinois head coach Lisa Carlsen said. "So we went out and got an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) guru."

Woods, a senior guard, prolific scorer and a legitimate candidate for Mid-American Conference player of the year this season, blew out her knee on a simple, noncontact Euro step move to the basket during NIU's win over Nevada on Dec. 2.

In that very same game, Northern sophomore guard Errin Hodges injured her knee, giving the Huskies three players on the current roster with knee problems. Sophomore guard Janae Poisson was already battling her second run-in with a major knee injury. She is now out for this season after missing all of last season with a knee injury.

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Joining Poisson with a season-ending knee injury last year was junior guard Myia Starks.

That's four major knee injuries in less than a calendar year. Prior to her call to SES, NIU head coach Lisa Carlsen was about to lose her mind.

"The day after Courtney got hurt, I called up SES. A lot of people swear by it," said Carlsen, whose team is 9-5 overall and 7-0 at home heading into today's 1 p.m. tilt against perennial MAC power Central Michigan at the Convocation Center in DeKalb. "I was like, 'I don't care what it costs, we have got to get you here.' We felt like we were already doing everything we could do with ACL injury prevention. But we realized we needed more help."

SES was established in 2011 and has developed quite a reputation for its good work. Over the last four seasons, SES has put more than 650 athletes through its individualized matrix testing and programming and none of them, that's right, zero, has had season-ending knee injuries.

Central Michigan coach Sue Guevara sympathizes with Carlsen and would much rather be facing an NIU team at full strength today. She knows how disruptive injuries can be. She hired SES a few years ago when knee injuries decimated her team.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"My heart sank when I heard about Courtney's injury," Guevara said of Woods. "I know what that's like. We went out and hired SES when we had a bunch of knee injuries and I can't say enough about them. They do a great job of evaluating each player and creating specific exercises for each player. It's not just a (blanket) approach for the whole team.

"For us, it's been money well spent. We have a kid this year who already had some knee problems (coming into the program) and she has an injury right now, but other than that, we haven't had a knee injury since we started working with SES."

Carlsen said she did her research about SES to make sure it would be a good fit for her program. She noted that Notre Dame hired SES a few years ago when a rash of knee injuries hit its women's basketball program, and that SES also works with USA Basketball.

"I feel like I'll be a doctor when all this is done," Carlsen said with a chuckle. "I've learned so much about joint stability in addition to muscle strength and how that all factors in.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"I am hoping this will help us and help our kids stay healthy. The way I see it, we owe it to our kids to do this, and to the program."

Stepping up: It was not a happy day for Northern Illinois Dec. 2 when leading scorer Courtney Woods (20 ppg) went down with a season-ending knee injury against Nevada.

But fellow senior guard Mikayla Voigt has done her best to turn those frowns upside down for the Huskies.

Voigt has stepped right into the role of go-to player for Northern Illinois and has made herself, like Woods prior to her injury, a legitimate candidate for Mid-American Conference player of the year.

In the Huskies' second game without Woods, Voigt went crazy and set a MAC and NIU record with 52 points, including a MAC and NIU record 11 3-pointers.

In December alone, Voigt had 3 double-doubles, including a 36-point, 10-rebound effort against Brown. She bumped her average from 13.8 points per game to 28.3 points per game and her shooting percentage from 38.1 percent to 53.1 percent, including a 47.9 percent clip from 3-point territory.

Voigt, who is averaging 22.3 points per game on the season, ranks second in the MAC and 11th in the nation in scoring while leading nation in 3-pointers with 4 made 3-pointers per game.

• Twitter: @babcockmcgraw

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