The Lady Rattlers’ starting center is back in the mix this season.
Ifeoma Onuaku, from Washington, was placed on the injured list before the 2006 season started.
Debra Clark, head coach for the Florida A&M University women’s basketball team, said Onuaku was experiencing mild pain in her shin splits. Recently, Onuaku was cleared to play.
“(The doctor) said it seemed like my shin was healing, so I could get back on the court,” said Onuaku, a senior physical education student.
Clark said the 22-year-old center is training to get back to the same level of production as last year.
“It’s going to take a little while because she sat out for two weeks,” Clark said. “She’s going to come out fine after a while.”
Last season, Onuaku was the second leading scorer and shot blocker for the Lady Rattlers. She also led the team in field goal percentage. She shot 52 percent from the floor.
As for now, Onuaku is taking it easy as she heals.
“She’s going to come off the bench until she gets back where she needs to be,” Clark said.
In FAMU’s last few games, Onuaku helped the team on the glass. In the Iowa Tourney against Quinnipiac College, she pulled down four rebounds and had one steal.
In the next game against Florida International University, she grabbed two rebounds.
Onuaku said she is glad to be back and is ready to work.
“It feels good because I’m ready to play and accomplish all the goals we set as a team,” she said.
Onuaku said she was content with the time it will take to get back to normal.
“It’s a slow process, but I ‘m making it slowly but surely,” she said.
On Nov. 24, the Lady Rattlers played against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.
In that game, Onuaku had four rebounds and two steals against Wake Forest.
Deidra Jones, a pharmacy student from Powder Springs, Ga., said Onuaku’s return to the court would provide the FAMU frontcourt with a stronger inside presence.
“Her being a threat on the inside opens up a lot of things for the guards,” said Jones, a sophomore guard for the Lady Rattlers. “Once the defense collapses on her, it’ll open more shots for the guards.”
Q’Vaunda Curry, a junior guard from Quincy, said she is glad that Onuaku is back.
“I know she’s going to have a very big impact on the offense,” said the Lady Rattlers’ team captain.
Curry understands how it is to be injured. She tore her meniscus her freshman year and came back to play the second half of the season.
Curry said she hopes Onuaku’s feelings about playing remain positive as she heals.
“I just hope she’s not afraid to play fresh off an injury,” said Curry, a business administration student.
She said it takes time. “It’s all a matter of getting comfortable with it.”
But Onuaku said she would play cautiously and let her body tell her when to slow down.
FAMU fans will get to see Onuaku and the Lady Rattlers back in action this weekend.
The next home game is Saturday at 2 p.m. against rival Bethune-Cookman College.