By TOM ZEBOLD
USF Senior Writer
TAMPA - The USF women's basketball team will be back to having two healthy Smith sisters on the floor for the regular season if all continues to go well.
Redshirt senior guard Andrea Smith has declared herself "pretty much 100 percent" after missing all of last season with a knee injury. Smith averaged 16.5 points per game two seasons ago before tearing her ACL in the final game of the Bulls' run.
"As the summer progressed, I started realizing, 'Wow, I'm back to 100 percent. I'm doing things like my old self,'" Smith said.
Life was much different for the former Lake Gibson High School star six months after surgery when frustration really started to set in.
"I don't know what I'm going to do," Smith remembered.
Fortunately for Smith, she had her twin sister to guide the way through tough times. Andrell Smith actually suffered the same injury as her sister did during their JUCO days and was forced to miss most of the 2008-09 season.
"She was basically my seatbelt. She was always there for me," Andrea Smith said. "She's been through that. I think she's really a strong woman for being there with me. Having this injury, it's hard and sometimes you're really emotional and you just want to fight everybody off. But she was there and remained there for me."
Now Andrea Smith is back to zipping across the court and may be even better than she was before the injury. Smith definitely wasn't sitting on the bench pouting last season. Instead, she watched film and took in the game from a different perspective - a coach's.
"I got to see what they would say and how they did things; why they would maybe run this play out of bounds. I got to see how my teammates developed when they are getting coached," Smith said. "I learned a lot of things while being out that are going to help me next year."
Smith also gained an experience that will benefit her even off the court. Getting back to running, or even walking, made her realize that some people can't and Smith considers herself "blessed" to be back to normal.
"Once you have something taken away from you that you love to do and you do it every day, it actually puts a lot of things into perspective. It actually makes you think about what people take for granted," she said.