Russo: Davydova Will Sit Out Entire Season

By Steven Rowell/Staff Writer

The FIU women’s basketball team has completed the non-conference part of its schedule and now for the first time will start conference play in Conference USA. Officially, they will have to play for the rest of the season just like they have all season without the services of senior center Marita Davydova.

In a post-game interview with Head Coach Cindy Russo after an FIU 78-44 win over Palm Beach Atlantic University, Russo confirmed the status of Davydova. According to Russo, the native from Russia will not suit up for the rest of this season due to eligibility issues not related to academics but related to transfer rules.

“She is ineligible to play this year, just a transfer rule and out for the whole season,” Russo said. “She’s a double-double player so I think we do miss her.”

After spending the summer in Russia and playing basketball there, Davydova returned to Miami and has only taken the court once this year for FIU, that was in an exhibition game against Nova Southeastern University in which the Panthers won 75-69 and Davydova had a double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds.

The senior has been in street clothes for every game since. After the game against Nova, Russo went on to say that Davydova is a bull on the boards and in the past has often described Davydova as being a brute on the court.

Senior guard Jerica Coley spoke on Davydova following the game against Florida Gulf Coast University on Nov. 8.

“She’s a huge contributor on offense, defense and rebounds so we definitely we have to adjust now,” senior guard Jerica Coley said.

With Davydova’s absence the Panthers are missing her size as Davydova is 6’3” and also was last year’s second leading scorer with 9.8 points per game and averaged 8.8 rebounds per game which led all players last season. Davydova also recorded 10 double-doubles which included a season high 19 points to go with 11 rebounds in a win last season at the University of North Texas.

With FIU standing at 6-7 thus far, it has been up to players such as sophomore forward Brianna Wright and junior forward Tynia McKinzie to fill in for Davydova. It has been a season of growing for both players as Russo has constantly said all season in regards to Wright and McKinzie.

Both McKinzie and Wright only saw limited action last season. Wright appeared in only three games last season while McKinzie appeared in 10 while starting in three games. Also with Davydova’s absence has given more playing time to junior forward Arielle Durant, but most of the down low scoring has been done by either McKinzie or by Wright.

So far this season growing pains have been experienced by both players, they have shown ability to be a scoring option down low to take pressure off of Coley. Wright this season has consistently been able to grab rebounds getting double digit rebounds in four games and nearly reaching 10 in five other games. Wright has scored in double figures four times this season and has recorded two double-doubles this season.

McKinzie has been on a surge recently. In her seven of her past nine games McKinzie has reached double figures in scoring including a double-double against Wake Forest University on Dec. 29 in which McKinzie scored a season 16 points while grabbing 10 rebounds. McKinzie has three double-doubles on the season.

While for most of the season so far, it’s been one or the other stepping up in a given game, in two of the past three games both Wright and McKinzie have reached double figures in scoring.

As the team still searches for chemistry with many new players playing this year, the team will need the continued production from McKinzie and Wright moving forward into conference play as the team pushes for an NCAA Tournament berth; a realistic goal in the mind of Coley.

“Very realistic, that is one of our main goals to win our conference and go to the NCAA tournament, that’s our goal every year,” Coley said.


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