Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sorry, Brittney, ODU's Donovan is the one to beat out

SportsCenter is full of highlights of the feat, and the media keep repeating it, so it must be true, right? Baylor's Brittney Griner is the NCAA leader in blocked shots with 665. Who she'd best to get it? Louella Tomlinson of St. Mary's in California finished her career in 2011 with 663.

If you wonder why Anne Donovan's 801 career blocked shots aren't even a footnote in this conversation, it's because the Old Dominion superstar played two of her years in the AIAW, and we're not counting two years of her phenomenal shot-blocking statistics. Apparently, basketball statistics didn't exist before the NCAA, a condescending attitude given Donovan and her Lady Monarch teammates Nancy Lieberman and Inge Nissen are regarded as some of the best to play this game.

Not giving Donovan her due is a slight, and one that's not terribly surprising in this era of short memories. We know about Jackie Robinson, credited for being the first African-American in Major League Baseball. The name Larry Doby doesn't roll off the tongue nor does Bud Fowler or Moses Fleetwood Walker -- trailblazers who are lost in an effort to honor Robinson and his legacy Yet the history books will tell you that while Robinson broke the color barrier, he was not the first in the organization that became MLB. And like basketball didn't exist before the NCAA, baseball didn't exist before the MLB.

But we know differently, and so we return to Donovan. There is little film, and that's understandable given the era (1979-83) when she played. But there is also little respect for one of the game's all time greats and that's not only far from understandable, it's insulting. And while the game is celebrating the accomplishments of the great Brittney Griner, it's no time to overlook the greatest shot blocker in the game's history: Anne Donovan.

1 comment:

  1. Agreed. I mean, did Kim Mulkey play in AIAW back then? So she should acknowledge Anne Donovan as well.