- Graham Hays, espnW.com
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NEWARK, Del. -- Delaware All-American Elena Delle Donne will not be at full strength when her team opens the regular season.
Delle Donne told espnW she is suffering from a recurrence of Lyme disease, which she initially contracted in 2008.
A previous recurrence of the bacterial disease that initially went undiagnosed during the 2010-11 season led her to miss 12 games that season.
The 6-foot-5 forward led Delaware to a 31-2 record last season and averaged 28.1 points per game, a mark that led the nation by more than four points per game.
She was recently named a unanimous first-team preseason All-American by The Associated Press, becoming one of just 10 unanimous preseason selections.
But Delle Donne said she began to feel the return of symptoms, including extreme fatigue, when Delaware began full preseason practices in October.
"You wake up and you're exhausted still; it feels like you didn't get a night's rest," Delle Donne said. "And then I have really bad muscle aches in my legs and arms, so my arms will be really heavy, it's hard to hold them up for a long period of time."
The senior continues to practice with the team and is taking a new antibiotic regimen to fight her symptoms.
While she said she is not 100 percent at the moment, she intends to play in the team's opening game against Sam Houston State on Nov. 9 and will work with Delaware coach Tina Martin to manage her workload as necessary.
"It flares up and it goes away," Delle Donne said of her experience with the disease. "It gives me confidence that I'll be able to play hopefully most of the season through it, as long as I'm medicated. I think I'll be able to push through it, even if I'm not 100 percent, or even close to 100 percent. I know I can work through it, and my coaches can help me work through it."
Delle Donne hopes that by coming forward about her experiences, she can raise awareness of the disease, which data from the Centers for Disease Control suggests affects more than 20,000 people annually in the United States.
"If it can help people or anything at all, I'd like to get it out there," Delle Donne said.
13dBonnie D. Ford