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.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

UConn Sales Redux: Injured Swarthmore Senior Scores 1,000th Point

(Guru's note: Listen up. If you got here directly to blogspot, another post below this recaps the Atlantic 10 sweep Wednesday night by Temple thrashing George Washington, La Salle shocking Charlotte and St. Joseph's upsetting host Duquesne. If you are in melgreenberg.com then click the mel's blog on the left side and then go one post below the Swarthmore story and one below that will give you the advance of the Swarthmore story. Finally, in melgreenberg.com, press media link and then click philly local for routine Division II and III news.)

By Mel Greenberg

– The very first moment Swarthmore women’s basketball coach Renee DeVarney became aware of Garnet senior Ceylan Bodur of Istanbul, Turkey, DeVarney was the one being recruited at the Division III school by the foreigner.
“She sent me a DVD and to tell you the truth, when I looked at the tape, she didn’t perform very well,” the Garnet coach recalled Wednesday night at Tarble Pavilion before Swarthmore met Bryn Mawr in a Centennial Conference game.

“Then I looked at her SAT scores and it was a slam dunk,” DeVarney smiled.

“Actually, she was better than I thought she might do when she came here as a freshman and she worked very hard and kept getting better every year.”

Then misfortune struck several weeks ago in a home game against Gettysburg just as Bodur was one point away from becoming the eighth Swarthmore player to reach 1,000 points.

“I knew when it happened,” Bodur said Wednesday night of the ACL injury on her right knee. “I heard it cracking in several places.”

However, an act of diplomacy between both schools who played Wednesday night and proper authorities enabled her to get the 1,000th point in the same way former University of Connecticut star Nykesha Sales, then a senior with a torn Achilles tendon, broke the school record for points with a gift basket allowed by Villanova in exchange for a freebie in the other direction at the outset of a Big East game on the night of Feb. 24, 1998.

When Sales set the school record that night at Villanova, which has since been broken in successive seasons by Tina Charles last year and then her mark topped this year by Maya Moore, she limped on crutches under the UConn basket and then dropped them and took a pass, scoring an uncontested basket for the layup.

Villanova then scored and then after the 2-2 deadlock the action eventually spilled into overtime when the Huskies prevailed.

Bodur, who will undergo surgery next Tuesday, had some mobility Wednesday night. Wearing a brace on her right knee, she positioned herself under the basket to take the pass and score uncontested after having received a loud ovation when announced in the starting lineup.

Then winless Bryn Mawr (0-23, 0-18) proceeded to score uncontested and after a 9-9 tie Swarthmore went on to a 73-44 victory that for the moment put the Garnet (10-9, 14-10) in a tie with Franklin & Marshall for the fifth and final spot in the Centennial playoffs.

Incidentally, the visiting Owls may be winless and suffered adversity last week when they had to forfeit a game against Muhlenberg because the flu struck the team reducing the number of available players below the minimum, but on Wednesday night they played with passion and fire to the final minute.

Back to the conference race, a Swarthmore win at Haverford Saturday and an F&M loss to Dickinson would put the Garnet in the Centennial tournament for the first time since 2005.

Swarthmore’s Kathryn Stockbower in her final home game scored 16 points and grabbed 14 rebounds against Bryn Mawr to extend her recently set NCAA Division III record for career double doubles to 82.

Before the game, DeVarney talked about her emotions the night of the Jan. 29 game when Bodur got hurt.

“We knew right away (Bodur’s points), and I thought, `Oh my God, she’s on fire, she scored the first four points in the game,’ DeVarney related.

“Then to see her go down. As a coach that’s the first time that ever happened to me,” said DeVarney, who is in her sixth season at Swarthmore and is a former assistant to Rutgers’ C. Vivian Stringer when she coached at Iowa from the mid-1980s through 1995.

“I mean somebody that close and then going down, it’s nothing you think of. We played a great game, unbelievably great,” DeVarney continued.

“I was emotional after the game because Cey is like a daughter to me. She’s from Turkey, her parents aren’t here, so I’ve always felt that connection – I need to look out for her extra special because she doesn’t have her parents here – I was heartbroken.

“I cried for Cey, not because she hurt herself but because of all the things surrounding it and it was an emotional week, but she’s doing much better now.

“Like most kids on our team, she’s brilliant, perfect 800 SAT scores in math, wants to work on Wall Street and be an investment banker – just another of the brilliant and great kids on our team.”

The Sales score enabled by a brokered deal between UConn coach Geno Auriemma and Villanova’s Harry Perretta, who have ties back to Catholic League days in high school, also had the approval of then-Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese.

Sales had suffered her injury the previous Saturday at home against Notre Dame just before she was about to break Kerry Bascom’s record.

Auriemma consulted with Bascom, who gave her blessing to allow Sales to get the mark, which has now been made moot by Charles, the WNBA rookie of the year last summer, and Moore, who will be the No. 1 overall pick in the next WNBA draft.
However, the arrangement drew a ton of criticism in the media.

Bodur’s situation is slightly different. There is no school record to break – she is firmly in eighth place on the Garnet scoring list and does not displace anyone.

“I considered it a no-brainer,” Bryn Mawr coach Deb Charamella said about when she was approach by DeVarney, a good friend, on the intent.

All parties, including the Centennial League, signed off on the move.

Perretta, when made aware of the first known repeat of the Sales setup in the past 13 years, said he had no problem with the arrangement.

“As long as they are doing it within the rules and it helps the kid, I have no problem,” Perretta said.

Asked about the mark being tainted, DeVarney afterwards noted that the move was a “personal” thing.

“She earned it over her four years here – and we’re happy we have a sister school like Bryn Mawr and their players who were very excited.

“I was hoping it could be against a special team and Bryn Mawr is a special team,” DeVarney said of the way the sports are undertaken in Division III.

The special setup occurred on Swarthmore’s Pink Zone night, a Women’s Basketball Coachews Association (WBCA) initiative in support of the Kay Yow Cancer Fund to fight breast cancer.

The school presidents of Bryn Mawr and Swarthmore were guest coaches with their respective teams and participated in a halftime tribute to breast cancer survivors and victims.

After the game, Bodur talked about her milestone.

“It was a special moment for me – it would be terrible if I would have to end my career with that final injury so I’m really grateful that my coach reached out to Bryn Mawr and since we have such a good relationship.

“I’m really grateful I got to step on the court once again and finish my career the way I would want to remember it.”
Bodur talked about the moment she got hurt.

“I thought, `My God, it’s No. 999 and my career is probably over,’” she related with a smile.

“I knew there was something wrong. My whole career was flashing before my eyes,” Bodur said.

“Right after the injury, everyone said, `Don’t worry, you’re going to score 1,000 points. We’ll figure it out.’

“But `Coach’ was really down to earth – she said the other team has to agree so don’t get your hopes up, don’t listen to everybody saying, `Don’t worry, you’re going to score 1,000.’

“I had a feeling about it, but I just learned a few days before they were going to try it.”

In terms of getting the mark through extraordinary means, Bodur noted, “The difference between 999 and 1,000 – you have your name written – it’s a milestone. It’s a personal achievement.

“I’m not breaking any record. This is Division III basketball. The only thing that’s binding is our love and passion for this game. So all I did is score one more point and it’s a personal thing.”

Being from Turkey, Bodur was asked if she had been aware of the recent events involving WNBA star Diana Taurasi, who had been suspended by the Turkish basketball federation when she initially was said to have taken a performance enhancing drug.

The former UConn star was officially cleared on Wednesday and is able to go on a play in the Olympics.

“The NBA is very popular, much more than the WNBA, which is getting more well known.

“Taurasi is such a great player, but the Turkish media, they like to bring famous people down, so maybe it was just one of those things.”

-- Mel


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