The first time Kansas junior guard Natalie Knight practiced without her knee brace was a simple oversight.
After tearing an anterior cruciate ligament on Jan. 30, 2013, Knight wore a brace in practice and games until one day when she forgot to ask trainer Ann Chapman to help her put it on. Knight decided to test herself, and soon she was practicing without it for three weeks and feeling better than ever.
“The brace was kind of heavy, and I felt a little bit slower with it. So I wanted to come out of it as soon as I could,” Knight said.
Knight, who graduated from Olathe South, played her first game without the brace against Baylor on Jan. 19 in Lawrence. She scored 18 points as the Jayhawks upset the No. 7 Bears. She played all four games since without the brace and notched double-digit points in three of them.
Knight has started all 22 games for the Jayhawks this season and has averaged a team-best 33.5 minutes per contest. She is scoring 9.4 points per game and 11 points in Big 12 play with 70 assists and just 28 turnovers.
Although she’s still improving her speed, Knight said she feels like she came back stronger than she was before the surgery.
“I don’t really think about it too much anymore when I’m on the court, because everyone says it’s more mental,” Knight said. “I’m really confident in it right now.”
Knight and the Jayhawks, 11-11 overall and 4-6 in the Big 12, face No. 12 Oklahoma State, 18-3 and 7-3, at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Stillwater, Okla.