By Chuck Woodling
Erica Hallman, centerpiece of Kansas University's women's basketball recruiting class, has been lost for three or four weeks with a knee injury.
Hallman, a 5-foot-8 point guard from Covington, Ky., suffered a partially torn anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee during a practice session over the weekend. An MRI on Monday confirmed the damage.
"She just slipped after making a fast-break pass," KU coach Marian Washington said Tuesday. "It was unbelievable."
No surgery is planned for Hallman, who was named Miss Kentucky Basketball after the 2001-2002 season. She has started the rehabilitation process under team trainer Kuniko Yamamoto.
"She's doing very well," Yamamoto said. "She's walking around and moving pretty well. Hopefully, she'll be back practicing in three or four weeks."
If Hallman rehabs successfully, she could play in the regular-season opener on Nov. 24 against Texas-El Paso in Allen Fieldhouse.
"My fingers are crossed," Washington said.
In all probability, though, Hallman will miss exhibition games against the Basketball Travelers on Nov. 13 and Fort Hays State on Nov. 17.
Washington thinks so much of Hallman that she had planned to take her to today's Big 12 Conference Media Day in Dallas along with sophomore Blair Waltz, the top returnee from last year's team.
Hallman, who led Covington Holmes High in suburban Cincinnati to a No. 1 state ranking by averaging 22.8 points and 5.6 assists per game, is one of the key players in Washington's attempt to bounce back from last season's miserable 0-16 conference finish.
Another freshman expected to contribute right away is Tamara Ransburg, a 6-4 forward from Virginia Beach, Va., who chose KU over Connecticut, Old Dominion, Duke and North Carolina after averaging 24 points and 12 rebounds a game in high school.
However, Ransburg's eligibility wasn't certified until last week so she is in only her second week of preseason practice.
"Physically, she's not in the best of condition," Washington said of Ransburg, "but she's an outstanding athlete so it shouldn't take long."
Hallman and Ransburg are among six freshmen and one junior college transfer Washington brought in to help right the ship. The other freshmen are Crystal Kemp of Topeka High, Ebony Haliburton of Overland Park Aquinas, Nichelle Roberts from Houston and Alicia Rhymes from Shreveport, La.
Aquanita Burras, a guard from Central Arizona Community College, is the juco transfer. Burras was tapped by Washington to fill in for Hallman at today's Media Day.
"Everyone is really working hard," Washington said about preseason drills. "We're young, but the effort has been outstanding. We have a lot of new players stepping up."
:quot; Sports editor Chuck Woodling can be reached at 832-7147.