Junior Deborah Stevens is not just another cute blond halfway through her four years at Cornell. No, this girl has another side, one very different from the smiling coed hailing the woods of Michigan.
Her alter ego goes by “Do” — the most aggressive and physical player for the Cornell women’s basketball team. She is wild on the court, tearing rebounds off the boards, fighting for loose balls, and hustling around the floor.
Do states, “I’m winning every game, that’s my mentality.”
All this is from an athlete burdened with severe injuries. Last season was rough, with Do (and most of the team) plagued by some ailment or other and sidelined for a few games. However, with Do and the team rehabilitated, all eyes are set on the Ivy rings.
In the 1999-2000 season, Do’s hard-nosed play on the court added up, and she finished as the statistical leader on the team — she registered 12.7 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.0 steals per game. And she did all this in an average 31.4 minutes per game.But for Do, none of that matters.
She noted, “The statistics, those just come from being in the game. I’m going to work hard for whatever I get.”
Not only is Do a physical leader on the floor, but she also raises the emotional level on the team.
“I try to carry my [intensity] over to everybody else on my team. I noticed especially in the [Team Shelen game], we might have been intimidated because they were so tall, but in warm-ups everyone was really down, but it just took a few words to refocus.
“[Newman Arena] is our home court no one steps in here, especially from Russia, and comes into our court.”
Do knows that even though basketball is a team sport, each player has to take care of herself.
She said, “Every game you have got to get yourself up. It shouldn’t be someone has to get everybody up every time.”
She also motivated the squad.
As she points out, “The intensity just comes from playing, and wanting to win. I would do whatever it takes to win, sometimes it’s frustrating you fall, diving on the ball, pushing my team to get over a pick, anything that’s going to help to win. It can get out of hand a few times, you are so into the game.”
Do’s teammates appreciate what she brings to the floor. Sophomore guard Jenny Todd said, “Do has a really good ability of getting to the bucket and pushing the ball, always looking for that drive which makes things a lot easier for other people.” Sophomore forward Lynell Davis remarked, “Do is [very] enthusiastic about the season, she’s real pumped about doing well.”
Part of Do’s motivation to get the team going has been her injuries. She commented, “It’s hard being injured. The whole season is up in the air, so I can just be a leader on the floor right now. I really am sure I can [play all season], so now I just push everybody else in practice.”
Do has come back from ankle problems.
“She’s worked real hard on getting her ankles back up to par for the season. She’ll be ready to go,” Davis noticed, adding, “Well, she’s gone full force even when she was injured. Now she’s ready to come back full force and strong.”
On her injuries, Do stated, “I can definitely play. It doesn’t even hurt during the game, the pain is just afterwards. It’s not a matter of being able to play the whole season — that’s guaranteed. I should get to the point where there is no pain at all, afterwards or in the morning. Hopefully that will come with therapy, and with [the team trainer] helping me out, I’m sure I’m going all season.”
Do is ready for the season.
“We are the underdogs now, the best position to be in. We’ve always been ranked low [in preseason polls]. If you ask me, we should have won the Ivy the last two years. I’m blaming it on injuries, not making excuses, but without injuries, without the things that have occurred, wow, we would have almost won the Ivy League hands down.
“We’ve had that kind of talent, that kind of leadership the last two years. Hopefully this year we are going to be able to keep everybody healthy, but if things do happen, we have the numbers, we have the people.”
Archived article by Katherine Granish