Rachel Hargis and the rest of the Colorado women's basketball team had worked a long time to reach the NCAA Tournament.
When they finally got there, Hargis had to sit on the sidelines, in a knee brace, and watch the game.
"That was really, really disappointing for me," she said. "I put a lot of work into this year and our team did a lot of great things together and then it was just really a major bummer that I wasn't able to play and help my team out."
About a week before the Buffs faced Kansas in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, on March 23 in Boulder, Hargis completely tore the MCL in her right knee. She was hit by a teammate on the knee and "just fell wrong," she said.
"It was kind of a crazy accident," she said. "I get hit a lot and nothing has ever happened. It was just bad timing."
Two and a half months later, Hargis is almost fully recovered and eager to get back onto the court and help the Buffs return to The Dance.
"It was really rough and I was pretty upset for a while, but everybody says things happen for a reason," Hargis said of missing the game, a 67-52 CU loss. "I'm over that and looking forward to next year."
She said there was a slight possibility of her playing against Kansas, but her knee wasn't stable enough by game time and the medical staff worried about her suffering a worse injury.
Hargis didn't have surgery, but said she's about 90 percent healed at this point. She has been running, and believes that by July she'll be ready to resume basketball activities.
When she does return, Hargis will be focused on making her senior year a great one -- not only for her, but for the Buffs.
As one of three seniors -- along with twins Ashley and Brittany Wilson -- Hargis could be looked upon as a leader. That's a role she's ready to embrace.
She also recognizes CU needs her to step up her production. Hargis made significant strides from her sophomore to junior seasons. She didn't put up lofty numbers (4.3 points and 3.1 rebounds per game), but started all 31 games until the tournament because she developed into one of the team's best defenders. She blocked a team-high 34 shots and received honorable mention for the Pac-12's all-defensive team.
With guard Chucky Jeffery, who led the team in points and rebounds, now graduated, Hargis will be asked to fill some of that void.
"We're all going to have to step up within our roles and keep improving in that sense," she said.
Coaches have asked Hargis to spend her time working on her offense. Although she hasn't been able to play basketball in recent months, she said her injury has given her time to work on her shooting form.
"Without Chucky here, somebody has to make up her points and rebounding," Hargis said. "One of my biggest goals is going to be rebounding and just finishing even better than I did last year, and creating more stuff for myself. Offense is my main focus right now and will be for the rest of the summer."
Despite not being able to play for a few months, Hargis is confident her game will take a leap forward.
"I think I'm still going to make even bigger strides than I did last summer," she said. "I think this is really going to have an impact on next year and I'm going to be ready and even better."
If she can get better -- and stay healthy -- Hargis could have another shot at the NCAA Tournament.
"Getting back to the NCAA Tournament is a definite goal," she said. "I see us being there and I can see us being in the top 25 again. I feel like it's going to be another great year."
For the second year in a row, the Buffs lost a member of their staff to Drake University. Last year, Jennie Baranczyk left to become Drake's head coach. Earlier this month, Baranczyk hired video coordinator Dan Doerflein away from CU. Doerflein was named coordinator of basketball operations at Drake. He was at CU for two seasons.
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