Angel Reese has explained her four-game absence from LSU was due to a "mental health break" and was self-imposed. "Taking time to yourself is really important. I feel like it's just something important, resetting, refocusing within the team. I'm just happy to be back. My mental health is the most important before anything and I'm gonna make sure I'm okay before anything because I don't wanna cause any harm or cancer in the locker room. I want to people realize that I'm not just an athlete. I'm a human, too. I go through things," Reese said after LSU's win over Virginia Tech.
Furthermore, Reese claimed that Shaq had FaceTimed her every day during her absence. Reese recently signed onto Reebok as Shaq's first signing in his president of basketball role. However, Reese's explanation will undoubtedly raise questions with some fans. Firstly, it doesn't explain why Reese was benched at halftime against Kent State in what Kim Mulkey called a "coach's decision". Secondly, one of the few comments Mulkey made about the situation was that it was a "locker room issue".
Reese Returns To A Short-Handed LSU
LSU fielded just seven players against Virginia Tech as the early-season drama, as well as some brutal injuries, have begun to take their toll. Kateri Poole remains away from the team and did not make her return alongside Reese. Meanwhile, star sophomore Sa'Myah Smith was ruled out for the season after tearing her ACL, MCL, and right meniscus in the Cayman Islands. That leaves LSU with just 11 players to see out the season. Morrow and freshman Milaylah Williams are already close to averaging 30 minutes a night.
However, the Tigers can likely take their foot off the gas for December, with five games left before the SEC slate begins in January. Their December opponents have an average NET ranking of 273, meaning they will likely be little trouble for the 8-1 Tigers. It's January that will start to cause problems if the Tigers remain short-handed and their stars stay on high workloads. Despite losing their entire starting lineup to graduation and the WNBA draft, South Carolina has re-emerged as one of the best teams in the country. They are 6-0, with half their wins coming against ranked opponents. The Tiger-Gamecocks matchup is currently set for January 25.