Concussion ends Jeanne Kenney's career at LSU

Associated Press photo by Rogelio V. Solis -- LSU guard Jeanne Kenney responds to a question at a news conference Monday. LSU faces West Virginia in an NCAA women's basketball tournament second-round game Tuesday. Show caption
Associated Press photo by Rogelio V. Solis -- LSU guard Jeanne Kenney responds to a question at a news conference Monday. LSU faces West Virginia in an NCAA women's basketball tournament second-round game Tuesday.

Jeanne Kenney’s career as an LSU Lady Tiger is over.

LSU coach Nikki Caldwell said Thursday the senior guard has been ruled out of action for the remainder of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament after suffering a concussion during Tuesday’s second-round victory over West Virginia.

Kenney has had three or four previous concussions, Caldwell said, and the possibility of her having another one was too great a risk to allow her to continue playing.

LSU plays at 1:30 p.m. CDT Sunday at Louisville in a regional semifinal game on ESPN2.

“If it had been her first one, I’d say we’d go day by day,” Caldwell said. “But we knew all season long if she had another one, or was symptomatic of another one, that would be it. If she’s symptomatic she’s even more at risk.”

Caldwell said Kenney will be allowed to travel to Louisville, Ky., for LSU’s second straight Sweet 16 appearance.

Kenney left LSU’s 76-67 win over West Virginia midway through the first half and headed to the locker room to be examined during a media time out at the 7:38 mark. She never returned to the court the rest of the game, finishing with just two points.

Kenney hasn’t spoken to the media since, but issued a statement through LSU after the upset win over West Virginia.

“I’m so proud of heart, fight, courage and determination shown by my teammates” Tuesday night, Kenney said. “Forever LSU.”

LSU (21-12), the No. 7 seed in the Louisville Regional, will have just eight players available Sunday from an original roster of 11 when it faces No. 3 Louisville (32-4). Sophomore center Derreyal Youngblood was suspended from the team before the NCAA tournament began. Then freshman guard Raigyne Moncrief suffered a tournament-ending knee injury in LSU’s 98-78 first-round win over Georgia Tech.

Caldwell said Moncrief’s left knee will require surgery but she expects she will be ready for the start of the 2014-15 season.

Caldwell said she is eager for her remaining players to have closure regarding Kenney’s availability. She informed them of Kenney’s status at practice Thursday, LSU’s last before heading to Louisville on Friday.

“I want the team to be ready,” Caldwell said, “not focused on whether Jeanne is back or coming back.”

A three-year starter out of St. Michael the Archangel High School, Kenney is LSU’s second-leading scorer with 11.3 points per game. She also leads the Lady Tigers in 3-pointers (71 of 181), free-throw shooting (91.5 percent) and assists (3.5 per game).

Kenney was also injured in last year’s NCAA tournament. She suffered a concussion late in LSU’s first-round win in freak collision with teammate Adrienne Webb, sidelining her for the Lady Tigers’ second-round upset of Penn State. She returned for LSU’s loss to California in the Spokane Regional semifinal, starting the game wearing a face guard.

Without Kenney and Moncrief, LSU’s fourth-leading scorer with 10.1 points per game, the Lady Tigers’ starting backcourt will include Danielle Ballard and DaShawn Harden and either Rina Hill, Jasmine Rhodes or Sheila Boykin.

Caldwell said she was leaning to starting Rhodes. She played well as Kenney’s primary replacement against West Virginia, scoring 11 points in 20 minutes.

However, Hill has started eight games and gives LSU an extra ball handler.