TAMPA ― The USF women’s seeding and bracket spot for this weekend’s American Athletic Conference tournament are all set.
Senior guard Kitija Laksa’s short-term future? Not so much.
The Bulls (16-14, 7-9), who delivered an inspired effort in Monday night’s 57-47 loss to Connecticut, are the No. 5 seed and face No. 12 Tulane at noon Friday at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. The Huskies are the top seed, meaning USF could face them for the second time in six days in Saturday’s semifinals.
The full tournament schedule can be found here.
Whether Laksa will be around to assist the Bulls’ bracketology in 2019-20 remains uncertain. Following Monday’s defeat, Coach Jose Fernandez indicated Laksa ― an All-America candidate before tearing her ACL in the season’s third game ― hasn’t made a decision regarding her future.
“We’ve had plenty of conversations,” Fernandez said. “You know what, I’m gonna support her whether she comes back or she decides to enter the (WNBA) draft. I want the best for her. We’ve spoken about my opinion with her on what’s best for her.”
Unlike fellow senior Laura Ferreira, who suited up and made a cameo Monday after missing the last two months with a heart condition, Laksa remained on the bench in street clothes. Fernandez said that was by design, in case Laksa decides to remain at USF for another season.
Laksa seemed a sure-fire first-round WNBA prospect before her injury Nov. 15 in a home game against Bethune-Cookman. A two-time first-team All-AAC pick and one of the nation’s top 3-point shooters, she’s 638 points shy of USF’s career scoring record (2,402) held by Jessica Dickson.
“We could’ve started her tonight just like we did Laura, but the NCAA redshirt rules are different,” Fernandez said. "It’s 30 percent of your season, but if you play one second in in the second half of the year, that redshirt year is null and void.
“The biggest thing for her is to continue to rehab and get better,” Fernandez added. “I think she knows what this program has meant to her, the positives of her coming back, and also the other opportunities that might arise if she doesn’t come back.”
AAC Women’s Basketball Championship
Mohegan Sun Areana, Uncasville, Conn.
Friday, March 8 (All Games on ESPN 3)
No. 5 USF vs. No. 12 Tulane, noon
No. 8 ECU vs. No. 9 SMU, 2 p.m.
No. 7 Tulsa vs. No. 10 Wichita State, 6 p.m.
No. 6 Temple vs. No. 11 Memphis, 8 p.m.
Saturday, March 9 (All Games on ESPN 3)
No. 4 Houston vs. USF-Tulane winner, noon
No. 1 UConn vs. ECU-SMU winner, 2 p.m.
No. 2 UCF vs. Tulsa-Wichita State winner, 6 p.m.
No. 3 Cincinnati vs. Temple-Memphis winner, 8 p.m.
Semifinals, Sunday, March 10: 4 p.m. (ESPN2) and 6:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
Final, Monday, March 11: 7 p.m. (ESPN2)