Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Catching up with GW point guard Danni Jackson

For years, the following line has been a neat fit for the speed with which point guard Danni Jackson operates - if you blink, you'll miss it.

Last season, though, that phrase also summed up the former Forest Park High star's freshman season at George Washington.

We blinked, and she missed it.

Jackson dazzled for just three games before a broken left fibula reduced her to a spectator for the rest of the 2009-10 campaign. Now the Colonials had a lot of injuries throughout a what-else-can-go-wrong 6-22 campaign. But losing Jackson clearly triggered the avalanche. The Colonials were 2-1 and leading then-No. 25 Michigan State by a point when Jackson went down. They lost that game by 31 points and dropped 20 of their final 24.

Now cast-free and back on the court, Jackson talks about surviving her first major injury and resuming the business of running the Colonials.

First of all, you're listed at 5-foot-3, but pint-sized point guards sometimes stretch things a bit. Are you really that tall?

I would like to say I am. I think I am.

Well, you play big, so we'll take your word for it. Now, the transition from high school to Division I college basketball is often a difficult one. How'd you make it look so easy?

Well, I always went to practice with a good attitude and tried hard....but I mean, it's not like I forgot how to play basketball when I got to college. So I won't say it was easy, but I just went out and did the things that I know how to do.

OK, so you're beating Michigan State, 8:35 left in the first half...then what happened?

All I remember is I faked one girl out, went up for a layup, got fouled and as I was going up I heard a 'pop'. Then I hit the ground and I heard another 'pop'.

Must have been really painful.

Actually, it wasn't that bad. I didn't even cry, at first. I didn't cry until I talked to my mom. She wasn't there and when I told her what happened and she got scared....yeah, I cried then.

Wow, no crazy intense pain?

Not until they set it in the cast. That was beyond painful. Words can't even describe it.

Had you ever had a serious injury before?

Not really. I broke my nose in a game once, but I came right back about two minutes later. I separated my shoulder, but then popped it back into place. This was really the first one where I couldn't keep playing.

You write in the George Washington women's basketball blog about how you come from a family where everyone likes to laugh and crack jokes. Did this fun-loving attitude help you keep your spirits up?

Well, I felt like basketball was the one place where I could escape, so to be honest, my spirits weren't all that high.

So how were you able to deal with it all?

Two people really helped - my roommate (and Colonials teammate) Megan Nipe and my mom (Janice Jackson). Megan kept me joking and didn't treat me like I was hurt. In fact, sometimes I think she forgot I was hurt. Every weekend, she got me to go out - no, she forced me to go out and do something, anything. Basically she treated me like I was a normal person, not Danni Jackson, the girl who can't play basketball.

My mom called me every day. When I was feeling bad, it was as though she knew and the call would come. She just talked to me a lot, and really helped me calm down.

How was the rehab?

It was tough, but it was fun, too, especially the things that relate to basketball.

Are you back to the ol' Danni Jackson yet?

Well, sometimes I get in there and I'm good on the court, and other times it's not so good. Still need to work on my speed and quickness. But I'm getting there. There are more good days.

I know it had to be tough sitting there watching the Colonials struggle last season and being unable to help. But did anything good come of it?

Yeah, it killed my spirits watching us losing so much. But I think that watching, seeing what I normally didn't see, seeing the game like a coach, I think it'll make me a wiser player.

Finally, how stoked are you for Nov. 13 in Minnesota's Williams Arena, George Washington vs. Wisconsin-Green Bay and the official on-court return of Danni Jackson?

Very, very excited. I may have to come out like two minutes into the game because I'm having an asthma attack - that's how much adrenalin I'll probably have. But I also think I'll have a good game. And people will get to see what they missed last year.

1 comment:

  1. The first time I saw Danni Jackson playing was when she played for Forest Park HS in the state championship game losing to Monica Wright's HS team.

    When I saw her play, the first thing that Danni reminded me is:

    Pam Thomas who played for Louisiana Tech in early '90s and led Lady Techsters to the national championship game in Richmond. Like Danni, Pam is 5'3 speedy point guard.