Sidelined by injuries, Hadavi still found ways to contribute

Tala Hadavi was recruited to AU as a transfer from Virginia Commonwealth to be the leader of a program that was headed for its first NCAA berth.

In two years of eligibility, she had one of the most up-and-down careers in Patriot League history. She played only eight games her junior year before blowing out her knee, and 22 games this year before suffering the same injury on her other knee.

After her 30-point, six-assist outburst at Lehigh in February, it looked as if she was leading the Eagles on a run that would have them peaking at the right time. But, in practice the following week, her season came to an end as she suffered a torn anterior curciate ligament for the second time in two years.

"The difference this time is that I was a lot more at peace with the situation," Hadavi said. "I'm thankful that I got to play almost a full season with the girls and that we had some success. Last year I was just bitter, but this time I've matured and tried to be a contributing member of the team from the sideline."

Hadavi earned All-Patriot League Second Team honors, as she was sixth in the league, scoring 14.2 points per game. She hit 61 3-pointers this season, leaving her one shy of the AU record.

"It was very disappointing because I was having a good season personally and the team was coming together," Hadavi said.

After sitting out two games after her injury, she attempted to play with a knee brace against Lafayette. She started on Senior Night and played two ineffective minutes, as she couldn't move laterally or play defense. The attempt to play was a combination of respect for her teammates and a shot at the 3-point record.

"[The record] wasn't that important to me, but I had heard of people playing with this injury and I wanted to see if I could give it a go," Hadavi said. "It was more of a fun thing, but as soon as the game started, I realized it wasn't going to happen."

The Eagles lost in the first round to Holy Cross, in large part because of a lack of their lone senior leader, who now leaves behind a young, but talented squad.

"I'm so excited for the girls, who will just continue to get better," she said. "I don't know exactly what I'll be doing, but I'm going to attend as many games as I can and make sure that I keep checking in with the team."

The Eagles will return all five of their stud freshman, two junior starters and transfer Liz Hayes, who will take over Hadavi's position next year. Hayes couldn't play last year after transferring from Delaware.

What's next for Hadavi? Well, life could be worse. She's three weeks out of surgery and has already begun rehabbing. She's trying to get back into shape to make a return to the game she loves. She's looking to graduate this fall with her master's degree in business, and either begin work or head to Europe and play basketball there.

"I don't know exactly what I'll be doing, but I've got some options," Hadavi said. "I'm finishing up my master's and I'm trying to see if I can go play in Europe, so we'll see what happens."

Regardless of what she does next year, no one can take away the excitement and passion she gave the Eagles' fans this year. Her career may be over, but the legacy of Hadavi, as the sharpshooting team leader whose knees couldn't hold the tremendous weight the team placed on her shoulders, will live on long after she's no longer an Eagle.

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