Missouri women’s basketball player Lauren Aldridge admits being subjected to a mild form of brainwashing during the last two years at Kansas.
She bought into the idea that Missouri was a bad school, drinking the Border War Kool-Aid during two seasons with the Jayhawks.
“Yes, I had,” Aldridge said with a laugh when asked if she’d developed a slightly negative perception of Mizzou during her time in Lawrence, Kan. “I had, but now that I’m here, and have been here a couple months, it’s been awesome.”
Aldridge — a native of Marshfield, Mo., near Springfield — started all 63 games during the last two seasons at Kansas.
She led the Jayhawks in scoring and assists as a sophomore, averaging 11.1 points and 2.4 assists for a squad that went 6-25 overall and 0-18 in Big 12 play in 2015-16.
Aldridge decided to transfer in early March and announced March 28 that she attend Mizzou. She’ll have two years of eligibility remaining after sitting out the upcoming season.
“I love it here,” Aldridge said of the adjustment to Mizzou. “It’s definitely one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I’ve made some of my best friends here, got involved in a lot of different groups outside of basketball. The (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) here is huge, so I’ve gotten involved with that and I’m leading a small group with some of my teammates. It’s just a really neat experience and an awesome school too. It took me by surprise how much I enjoyed the school.”
MU has proven to be a welcoming place, though Aldridge has endured some razzing for her previous affiliation.
“I get jokes all the time,” she said, about transferring from Kansas, “but now I almost take it lightheartedly. There was a group of people that came through the other day. I think they were with the hospital, and I had to introduce myself.”
Upon announcing she was a former Jayhawk, “I just heard rumblings, but I was like, ‘No, no, no — it’s OK. I’ve come to the light side now,’ ” Aldridge said. “I’ve put a lighthearted spin on it, but it’s definitely still a running joke.”
Not playing this season will be a tough transition, especially considering how close she’s become with her new Tigers teammates.
“That’s definitely going to be challenging, but I look at it as an opportunity as well,” Aldridge said. “I want to be able to get better and to learn the system. Next year, hopefully I can hit the ground running and will be able to work on my weaknesses. It also gives me an extra year of school, which I need. There are a lot of positives to come out of it too.”
Mizzou has been hit by injuries already this season.
Junior forward Bri Porter suffered her fifth ACL tear, which likely will force her to retire, while junior forward Kayla McDowell has been slowed by a hamstring injury.
The Tigers also lost senior forward Jordan Frericks for the season with a torn ACL, but even that had a silver lining.
“We were eating in the cafeteria one day and I told (Frericks), ‘I didn’t really know when to bring this up and when it wasn’t going to be a touchy subject …’ ” Aldridge said.
Frericks, who has been Mizzou’s leading scorer the last three seasons, cut her off, “I already know what you’re going to say. We were talking about it the other day. I’m going to get to play with you, and it’s going to be a ton of fun.”