Tchatchouang Battles ACL Injury

Sophomore Diandra Tchatchouang has had surgery for her ACL tear and is in the recovery process.

Less than five minutes into the NCAA Tournament second round game between the Maryland Terrapins and the Georgetown Hoyas, the 17,950-seat Comcast Center was abruptly enveloped by a wave of silence. Faces in the crowd previously marked by looks of competitive intensity quickly gave way to brows furrowed with worry, hands clasped tightly over mouths, and nervous winces as sophomore forward Diandra Tchatchouang fell to the floor and began pounding the hardwood in agony.

Tchatchouang, who has been a starter for every game of her career at Maryland and who averaged 8.9 points per game this season, had torn the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her left knee.

Tchatchouang underwent surgery on Friday, April 15, and Maryland head coach Brenda Frese reports that it “went extremely well” and that the doctors “expect a full and complete recovery.”

Thursday, April 21, was the first day that Frese was able to visit with Tchatchouang since the surgery. Although the prognosis is ultimately promising, Frese notes that, like anyone that has experienced a serious injury, the emotional and physical tolls are momentarily weighing on Tchatchouang.

“She's been in a tremendous amount of pain,” Frese said in a telephone interview. “This is the first surgery she's ever been through...I think that for her, that's probably been the most shocking -- just the realization of how much pain she's in every single day and night right now.”

However, while the struggles Tchatchouang faces will test her individual resiliency, she will never truly be alone in her battle to recover.

Players that have also suffered from torn ACLs, such as 2011 commit Brene Moseley, redshirt freshman Whitney Bays, and junior Kim Rodgers, have all offered words of advice and expressions of empathy to Tchatchouang.

“They've all had the chance to be able to talk with her, and obviously they understand it even closer,” said Frese. “So I think that's been very comforting.”

Tchatchouang will also benefit from the dedication of strength and conditioning coach Kyle Tarp, who has already won great acclaim for improving the team's overall fitness level in the offseason, but who is also known for his sensitivity to injuries and his expertise in working with injured players.

Earlier in the season, when Tchatchouang was recovering from an ankle injury she sustained while competing in the European Championships over the summer, Tarp took Tchatchouang to the pool and worked her out in the water in order to relieve pressure on the injury while still reinforcing basketball techniques and movements.

“We feel very confident, when our [injured] players come back to us, that he is constantly working in those specific areas to build back up and give our players increased strength in those areas,” Frese said of Tarp.

Finally, while Tchatchouang's fearsome shot blocking ability and versatility on the perimeter and in the paint will be missed while she recovers, Frese is sure that Tchatchouang's influence will never lessen.

“Diandra has always been about this team,” said Frese. “She's going to do anything to support this team moving forward.”

“And we will do the same. Every single day, we're all checking in with her to give her the support that she needs. And she's going to need a lot of support from each and every one of us.”

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