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Diamond Miller’s buzzer-beater against then-No. 7 Notre Dame was one of the most electric moments of Maryland women’s basketball’s 2022-23 campaign.
The Terps celebrated the shot, which gave them a 74-72 road win, by swarming Miller on the court. But the festivities were bittersweet for one player who watched the game from the sidelines.
“Everybody was on the court cheering, celebrating,” Allie Kubek said. “Obviously, I was there for the team support, but I wanted to contribute in some way. It was definitely hard to watch [that] game.”
Kubek, who transferred to Maryland from Towson, tore her left ACL during the preseason. The injury ended what would’ve been her junior season before she ever heard her name called over the Xfinity Center speakers.
It was her second major knee injury — Kubek previously tore her right ACL — and derailed what had been a promising start to her Maryland career. Head Coach Brenda Frese said that Kubek looked like a potential starter during the preseason due to her strong play.
While Maryland enjoyed great success on the court — the Terps finished the season ranked in the top 10 and won 28 games —it remained a trying season for Kubek.
“Basketball is an outlet for me,” she said. “Not being able to … play, it really sucked. I was like, ‘I don’t know what to do with myself.’ That’s my mental outlet.”
She persevered through the season in large part due to support from her teammates, many of whom had similar experiences.
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Lavender Briggs, who transferred to Maryland midway through the 2021-2022 season, missed extended time while working her way back from surgery on a stress fracture in her left shin. She recalled the isolation she felt when having to sit on the sidelines.
Kubek also related to her roommate, Emma Chardon. The redshirt sophomore played just five minutes this season after injuring her knee in the season opener against George Mason.
“I’m happy that I had [Emma] because I’m not sure I would have been able to make it without a rehab buddy,” Kubek said. “She was there every day that I was, putting in the same amount of work. It was just nice to be like, ‘this sucks,’ with somebody.”
Kubek also leaned on Megan Rogers, a physical therapist and former sports trainer for the women’s basketball team. Kubek said that Rogers supported her both physically and mentally and credits the trainer for getting her ahead of schedule in the recovery process.
But perhaps no player better supported Kubek throughout the year than senior captain Faith Masonius, who suffered a torn ACL in January 2022. Masonius recommended Rogers, pushed Kubek to keep working through her physical therapy on down days and provided a blueprint of what a return to the court could look like.
ACL injuries usually take eight to 10 months of rehabilitation to recover from. The first six to eight weeks post surgery are spent doing exercises — leg raises, lunges, Romanian deadlifts — to regain quad muscle.
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At three to four months, the individual in recovery starts jumping and running on an anti-gravity treadmill, which takes away body weight so they can run without putting extra stress on the knees.
Months six and seven are when an athlete can start moving laterally. Kubek is now running sprints and working out on the court. She said she plans to spend the summer training in College Park.
Her return could give the Terps another piece. Kubek averaged 14.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, shot 33 percent from three on 97 attempts and was named to the all-CAA Third Team in her last season at Towson.
With only two starters returning, Kubek has a chance to step into the starting lineup and provide much-needed size inside and floor spacing. The Maryland native said she will do whatever the team needs of her once she returns.
“Allie’s a big time player,” Frese said. “She can score the basketball. She’s got size. She can fit in really well with our transition, the way she runs. She can rebound. I’m just excited she’s got three years with us. She’s got a huge ceiling and a chance to have an immediate impact.”
Kubek has one simple message to Terps fans waiting to see what that impact will be:
“I love to win,” she said. “No matter what I got to do to win, I’m gonna do it … I don’t like losing.”