ATLANTA (Dec. 2) — Georgia Tech’s Niesha Butler (New York, N.Y.) will miss the remainder of the 1999-2000 women’s basketball season after an MRI exam conducted Wednesday afternoon revealed the sophomore guard tore the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her left knee during the Yellow Jackets’ game with NC State Tuesday night.
The exam also revealed a partial tear of Butler’s medial collateral ligament (MCL) and damage to her meniscus, the cartilage between the bone in the knee. The ACL is the main stabilizing ligament of the knee, and the MCL is another stabilizing ligament.
Butler will undergo two to three weeks of rehabilitation and then undergo surgery after swelling in the knee subsides. Doctors expect a full and complete recovery.
“Losing Niesha Butler is devastating not only to our team and staff, but to me personally,” said Tech head coach Agnus Berenato. “Niesha was focused on being a great player both on and off the court this year, and this is a setback we must overcome. Our goal of making the NCAA Tournament will not change. That’s why I coach a team sport. One individual doesn’t make the team, it just gives someone else to step up and make something happen.”
“As one of our co-captains, Niesha still has a tremendous responsibility to the team to be a leader and help see our goal fulfilled.”
Butler, Tech’s leading scorer, injured her knee while driving to the basket just two minutes and 42 seconds into Tech’s Atlantic Coast Conference opener with sixth-ranked NC State Tuesday night.
“A lot of players have come back from this type of injury, and I’m confident I will too,” Butler said. “I have the utmost confidence in our doctors, athletic trainers, medical staff and coaches. I’ll be back, and hopefully, I’ll be back much stronger than before. I am just going to have to work hard, come back next year and play my heart out.”
Berenato said Tech will apply for a medical redshirt for Butler so she will not lose a year of eligibility.
Butler, the 1999 ACC Rookie of the Year and a preseason first-team all-ACC choice this season, was averaging 13.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. She entered the NC State game averaging 17.0 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.