BY DAN KORB
Evansville Courier & Press
Even though Brooke Valentine won’t play another minute the rest of the season, coach Rick Stein insists she will remain a major part of the University of Southern Indiana women’s basketball team.
Pregnancy has forced the former Jeffersonville High School standout and sophomore forward to the sidelines. USI will seek a medical hardship waiver — a redshirt year — and she is expected to return for the 2013-14 season.
The team’s leading rebounder last season, the 5-foot-11 Valentine was averaging four points and six rebounds in three games this season, much of which she spent recovering from a foot injury.
“She’ll continue to be a part of our team, and we want her to be,” said Stein, who said he was told of her condition this past weekend (Valentine did not play in either of the USI Thanksgiving Classic games on Saturday and Sunday). “Her health is very important.”
Junior point guard Ariel Barnes will miss her.
“It’ll be hard not to have her around,” said Barnes. “But she’s still part of this team and she’ll be right there with us.
“She’s a great leader and very vocal and she’ll still be that for us.”
Valentine, who was not available for comment, averaged 6.3 points and 6.5 rebounds last season, playing in all 26 games and starting 11.
Before coming to USI, she helped the Red Devils win the Class 4A Indiana state championship in 2011, her senior year. She averaged 12.1 points and 6.1 rebounds that season.
At 5-0, USI is off to its best five-game start since 2000-01.