Lianna Doty and Bri Porter are back

Robin Pingeton: “You never know what that learning curve is going to look like. But both (Porter and Doty) are making great strides, which is great to see.”
Missouri Tigers guard Lianna Doty (1) drives past Florida Gators defender January Miller (3) on Jan. 31, 2013, at the Mizzou Arena. Doty will return to the court accompanied by Bri Porter. Maneater File Photo

Missouri women’s basketball coach Robin Pingeton had every surrounding member of the media knock on Mizzou Arena hardwood last Wednesday when a reporter asked her something.

The question?

“Is this team pretty healthy right now?”

After a tumultuous 2014-15 season health-wise that saw plenty of star players missing out on games, the Tigers’ roster, including the previously injured players, is now in good shape.

Lianna Doty was all smiles in Mizzou Arena for her first Missouri women’s basketball media appearance of the year.

The redshirt junior point guard hasn’t played since 2014 due to a lisfranc injury that occurred just a week before last season began.

“It was obviously hard; I’m a competitor,” Doty said. “To be on crutches for four months was crazy, and (to) not be playing basketball was tough. But I definitely just grew up in lots of ways. I loved the relationships I was able to build with my teammates, so it makes it so much sweeter now and it’s more of a joy to be back on the court now than it ever has been in my life.”

Having played since she was a kid, taking a year off was difficult to fathom when her doctor broke the news.

But for sophomore forward Bri Porter, hearing the news from her doctor that she’d suffered another ACL tear last December was nothing new.

In the penultimate non-conference game of the season against Tennessee-Martin, Porter went down with a left knee injury. Having a history of ACL tears, it came as no surprise to Porter when she learned she’d be out for eight months yet again.

Like Doty, though, she’s ready to get back on the floor.

“It’s been a long time coming and the anticipation is just really high,” Porter said. “I’m just enjoying every second of it.”

Assistant coach and father Michael Porter of Bri and freshman forward Cierra Porter said dealing with these injuries is challenging from both perspectives.

“There’s a part of me that does (get worried about injuries),” Michael Porter said. “But there’s also part of me that realizes to be good at this, you just can’t have fear. You can’t. So I never project my worry onto them; I pray for them and I hope for the best and when they fall, on the inside I may cringe but on the outside I try to keep it calm.”

Heading into a season with an energized feel from a highly-touted freshman class is exciting for many, but for Pingeton, having both Porter and Doty back is what excites her most.

“You know, we just had a conversation — Lianna and I — about (her being back) just a few days ago,” Pingeton said. “It takes some time to get that timing back, and I’m really pleased with where she’s at right now as well as Bri, and they’ve really embraced that learning curve, so I’m really excited about where we’re headed.”

Doty will lace up for the first time since her injury on Nov. 4 in Mizzou’s first exhibition game against Southwest Baptist, and so will Bri Porter.

Although the starters haven't been named and they may not both be 100 percent at the beginning, they’re both relishing the opportunity.

“Every single day this seems like a huge blessing,” Doty said. “Just being back on the court, you forget how amazing and just how fun it was, so it’s good to feel those emotions again. I’m just really excited.”

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