Cal women’s basketball suffered a devastating blow Wednesday morning, with head coach Charmin Smith announcing that projected starting guards Jazlen Green and Alma Elsnitz will miss the rest of the season due to injury.
“Obviously these are devastating blows to our program, but we will support Alma and Jazzy throughout their recovery and I have no doubt that they will come back stronger than ever next season,” Smith said.
Green, a sophomore, is out with a right knee injury and didn’t see the court in the Bears’ first two games of the season. Losing her for the season will be costly for Cal: Green was the leading returning scorer from last season and received a preseason All-Pac-12 honorable mention. She was also the Bears’ best 3-point shooter, leading the team with 48 made 3-pointers last season and shooting 36.9% from long range.
Elsnitz, a freshman, played her first collegiate game Sunday against CSU Bakersfield and immediately looked like a difference-maker, leading the team in scoring with 14 points while picking up four rebounds and two steals as well. Elsnitz went down with under two minutes left in the game in what has now been diagnosed as a right ACL tear that will keep her out for the year.
With the losses of Green and Elsnitz, Cal’s guard rotation becomes dangerously thin. The Bears lost several key contributors at the position this offseason to graduation and the transfer portal. To make matters worse, sophomore guard Cailyn Crocker is also out for the season due to injury.
The Bears now have only two guards on scholarship: sophomore Leilani McIntosh and freshman Ornela Muca. Muca went 0 for 9 from the field Sunday afternoon, including 0 for 6 from three, and will need to step up quickly if the Bears hope to make up for the lost production of Green and Elsnitz.
These injuries are heartbreaking to a young Cal women’s basketball team that needs all the help it can get. With Pac-12 play kicking off Friday against Washington, the Bears will find out very soon just how costly these injuries are.
Benjamin Coleman covers women’s basketball. Contact him at [email protected].