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Norika Konno considered staying in Louisville while she rehabbed following knee surgery, but the growing outbreak of COVID-19 (coronavirus) changed her plans. She returned to Senda, Japan safely before travel restrictions were put in place.

“There seemed to be a like a five-day window that she had available to go and she did,” Louisville women’s basketball coach Jeff Walz said.

The 5-foot-10 guard appeared in 16 games during her freshman year, averaging 4.6 points, 1.9 assists and 1.9 rebounds. Konno missed the final 14 games of the season with a knee injury.

Konno continues to rehab her knee and has access to a gym for individual workouts. She told Walz that her knee is feeling great.

Konno made an impact early on in her first year. She played 26 minutes and scored nine points in Louisville’s season opener. She had a season-high 11 points along with four assists in Louisville’s win over Chattanooga Nov. 21.

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Three days later, Konno had seven points, six assists and four rebounds against Boise State. Walz said Konno was getting comfortable with the team in November, but the knee injury cut everything short.

“I was really excited for Norika before she ended up coming down with the injury,” Walz said. “I thought she was progressing really well, showing some flashes of obviously what we had seen when we were recruiting her.”

Konno played seven minutes against Boston College Jan. 16, her final appearance of the season.

With a backcourt that includes ACC Player of the Year Dana Evans, Elizabeth Balogun, Mykasa Robinson along with McDonald’s All-Americans Nyah Green and Hailey Van Lith, and the National Junior College Athletic Association Player of the Year in Ahlana Smith, Konno won’t be rushed back from injury.

“We will take our time to get her back,” Walz said. “I really think she can add to our ball club.”