Senior playing waiting game after knee surgery


By Thomas Donley, @tdonleyDE

After a season of consistency in the starting lineup, the SIU women’s basketball team has been without one of its lineup stalwarts. 

Senior forward Azia Washington missed both of SIU’s exhibition games because she is rehabbing from knee surgery. 

Washington suffers from patellofemoral pain syndrome, a condition common in athletes that results from wear of cartilage under the kneecap. She underwent lateral release surgery to alleviate the right knee pain that had nagged her for more than a year. 


Washington has started 58 of the Salukis’ 60 games the last two seasons, including all 30 last year. She spent practices this preseason working on strengthening her knee while her teammates participated in full-court drills. She watched from the stationary bike on the sideline or from a stretching position on the floor while the team scrimmaged. 

“It’s really hard mentally,” Washington said. “But you just have to get through it. I just know that there’s going to be better days ahead.” 

Washington has been gradually working her way back to full participation. She participated in full-court drills on a limited basis Wednesday for the first time all season. 

“She looks good,” coach Cindy Stein said. “There’s still some rust, but it’s just a matter of time.”

Stein said after Saturday’s exhibition game against Kentucky Wesleyan that Washington probably could have played, but did not as a precaution.

“We felt like it was just smart to hold her out one more week and to see where she is a little bit more,” Stein said. 

Junior guard/forward Carlie Corrigan and sophomore forward Celina VanHyfte are receiving more time with Washington’s absence. Corrigan started in the Salukis’ first exhibition game Oct. 30 against Maryville, posting four points and three rebounds in a 66-60 win. VanHyfte started Saturday and finished with 19 points and six rebounds in a 96-64 victory.


“I just go out and play as hard as I can every day,” VanHyfte said. “There’s nothing else I can do. It’s great that I’m getting more opportunities, but then again, Azia’s a really key player, and we’re going to miss her.”

Sophomore guard/forward Kylie Giebelhausen, SIU’s regular starter at small forward, can also slide into Washington’s power forward position and allow other guards to contribute. 

“I still like playing outside more,” Giebelhausen said. “But my attitude more so would be to step in at any position I need to.”

Stein named junior forward Kim Nebo and freshman forward Ashley Hummel as other players who could benefit from more playing time in Washington’s absence.

Thomas Donley can be reached at [email protected] or at 618-536-3307