Womhoops Guru

Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

UConn Sales Redux: History To Repeat At Swarthmore

(Guru’s note: Due to the cross-divisional topics in this story, it is the Wednesday topic story on the guru site. If you got here in mel greenberg.com, click Mel’s blog on the left to read coverage of the Villanova-Cincinnati game and other D-1 info. If you are in womhoops.blogspot.com, the post is directly under this.

Also in melgreenberg.com, click the basketball media tab and then philly local leading you to the expanding page focusing on D2 and D3 hoops in Philadelphia. You can then click the top story to get inside the local blog to read previous posts.)

By Mel Greenberg

The 13th anniversary is approaching of the controversial and approved handshake between Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma and Villanova’s Harry Perretta that allowed former all-American Nykesha Sales to score a gift basket at the start of a Big East game on Feb. 24, 1998, at the Wildcats’ Pavilion to enable Sales to break the Huskies’ career scoring record.

Sales, who had suffered a torn right Achilles tendon the previous Saturday in a campus afternoon home game in Storrs against Notre Dame, hobbled out on the court undefended by the Wildcats under the UConn basket, dropped her crutches, and scored a layup to get the record.

Then Villanova went unmolested the other way to make the score 2-2 and things then got serious the rest of the way.

A similar scene under mostly similar circumstances will occur at Division III Swarthmore Wednesday night when the Garnet (13-9, 9-9) host winless Bryn Mawr at in a Centennial Conference game.

The move at the outset of the 6 p.m. game at Tarble Pavilion, however, won’t displace anyone or any record, but it will enable injured senior guard Ceylan Bodur of Istanbul, Turkey, to score her 1,000th career point making her eighth on the all-time list among the Swarthmore women.

Additionally, as part of Pink Zone night involving the initiative by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) in support of the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund to combat breast cancer, the highest authorities of both universities will be on the scene.

Rebecca Chopp and Jane McAuliff, the respective presidents of Swarthmore and Bryn Mawr, are set to serve as guest coaches of their teams.

“Actually we’re getting more interest on that aspect than anything else,” said a Swarthmore source who said clearance has been given for Bodur to get her milestone.

Bodur had scored the first four points Jan. 29 to get to 999 in a winning effort at home against Gettsyburg when she went down mid-way through the first half with what was eventually diagnosed as a collegiate career-ending ACL knee injury.

Since then, sixth-year coach Renee DeVarney, a graduate of Vermont who served as an assistant to Rutgers’ C. Vivian Stringer when the Hall of Famer was at Iowa, has explored potential ways to help Bodur and had planned to contact the UConn coaching staff on the specifics of the Sales situation.

The plan at Swarthmore is for Bodur, who has mobility; to be allowed to score at the outset and then Bryn Mawr (0-22, 0-17) will be allowed to tie the game at 2-2.

The Sales move drew national attention by the media, though it should be noted that Villanova forced that game in overtime after the 2-2 score, only to lose at the finish.

Swarthmore, trailing by one game for the fifth and final playoff spot in the conference tournament, is an overwhelming favorite Wednesday to beat Bryn Mawr, which suffered extra adversity last week when a game against Muhlenberg had to be forfeited because of an illness that caused Bryn Mawr to be unable to produce enough players to compete.

During the uproar involving Sales, it was noted that her total of 2,178 points was just a school record likely to be broken in the future considering the way Auriemma continuously harvests talent.

That forecast came true twice the last two seasons with WNBA rookie of the year Tina Charles breaking the mark a year ago and then surpassed this season by senior sensation Maya Moore, who’s scoring meter is still running.

On Monday night, Moore passed former Louisville all-American Angel McCoughtry for the Big East scoring record and is tied for 15th on the all-time NCAA career list at 2,796 points.

To refresh the memories of those following the sport at the time of the Sales hubbub or those who had yet to take an interest, the native of nearby Bloomfield, Conn., whose brother Brook played at Villanova (1998-2002), was going against Notre Dame in Gampel Pavilion.

Late in the game just as she received a pass that would enable to her to score the basket that would replace Kerry Bascom’s mark Sales yelled in pain and went down with what was later diagnosed as a torn right Achilles tendon.

That Sunday, in a conversation with the Guru, Perretta, whose team had been in Miami against the Hurricanes the day of the injury, mentioned his players felt bad for Sales and wondered if anything could be done.

The two Big East coaches, incidentally, go way back together to Catholic League high school days in Philadelphia.
Auriemma also felt bad because Sales could have easily set the record prior to the injury had he not sat her numerous times during Connecticut blowouts, outcomes that haven’t changed much since then.

He also checked with Bascom to see if she would have any issues with the objective of the plot and she did not.

Thus, the two coaches worked out a scheme and gained the approval of then Big East commissioner Mike Trangese, who afterwards fueled more controversy in saying that he might not have done so on the men’s side but women are different.

Temple coach Tonya Cardoza, who was an assistant to Auriemma at the time, doesn’t remember much about the lead-up to the Villanova game.

“Just that a big fuss was made afterwards,” she said.

In terms of Swarthmore, milestone or not, Bodur, who is averaging 10.7 points per game, would become the eighth 1,000-point career scorer for the Garnet. Her ranking number for the Garnet is already secure in that slot not being able to surpass the 1,095 total by seventh-place Jen Truscott (1984-88).

Heather Kile (1998-2002) has the record at 1,965, also a long way from Bodur’s total, which is in front of Pam Pierce’s 941 that ended in 1988.

The Garnet recently had another achievement when senior Kathryn Stockbower set the NCAA Division III record for double doubles – she now has 81.

Perretta, after Tuesday night’s win over Cincinnati at the Pavilion that stopped an eight-game losing streak, was asked if he was aware of the plans at Swarthmore.

He was not but noted, “As long as they work it out within the rules and it helps the kid, I have no problem with what they are doing.”

-- Mel


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ms. Sales is from Bloomfield CT

9:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great moment for Ms. Bodur. Also reflects well on both programs and coaches. Having watched her play for the last three years she has been an outstanding player and leader for Swarthmore. All the best to Ms. Bodur

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