Four years ago, seniors Breean Walas and Do Stevens were two of the best high school basketball players in the state of Michigan. They were both slashing guards who could get the ball to the hole and score or dish seemingly at will.
Walas hailed from Birmingham Marian High School while Stevens crafted her legacy at Atherton High.
Their senior year, they represented two-fifths of the AP All-Michigan state first team.
It is therefore no surprise that when Cornell women’s basketball coach Marnie Dacko heard that both stars were coming to East Hill to play their college ball, she was nothing short of ecstatic.
“We knew we had the two best incoming guards in the [Ivy] League,” recalled Dacko. “I believe we still have the two best guards in the league.”
As freshmen, the two struggled at times to adjust to their new role and their new backcourt partner. However, with more time and the magic of game experience, they have become a virtual machine on both ends of the floor.
“They went from throwing the ball into the bleachers [as freshmen] to really respecting each other and expanding their limits on the court as a two-ome [the last two years],” Dacko says.
Walas stormed out to immediate success in a Cornell uniform her rookie year. In her very first game she scored a team-high 20 points against an unsuspecting Army squad. Walas followed up on her immaculate debut with an entire season of stardom, eventually garnering Ivy League Rookie of the Year honors. The first-year point guard led the Red in minutes played while starting every game and becoming only the fifth Cornell player to have over 100 assists (102) in a single season.
Stevens mirrored Walas’s breakout year with her own fantastic freshman effort. Stevens ended her first season atop most every statistical category for her team. She led Cornell in rebounds (6.8 rpg), assists (111) and steals (56) while also being third in scoring (11.5 ppg). Stevens was also a member of the 1999 All-Ivy League Rookie team.
Since their first year as teammates, Walas and Stevens have remained the most exciting one-two punch in the Ivy League but still thirst for their first taste of Ivy immortality.
“They know how to win and they want to win,” says Dacko, “the only thing they haven’t accomplished is an Ivy League crown and we all hope for that this year.”
Both players have been the victim of nagging injuries throughout their careers but are in full health for their final attempt at a championship.
Walas missed most of her sophomore campaign with a torn ACL but showed no signs of slowing down in her comeback effort last year. She received All-Ivy honorable mention last season while scoring in double digits 16 times.
Stevens hobbled around on a twisted ankle for her entire sophomore and junior years but still managed to lead her team in scoring both years (12.7 and 11.5 ppg, respectively) and was named to the All-Ivy second team last year.
However, none of these statistics matter much to either of these competitors whose sights are now set wholly on an Ivy crown. After being named tri-captains (along with sophomore Karen Force), their role as the leaders of a relatively young team is not only an unspoken understanding but also an official title.
“They are great players, good people, and excellent role models for our team,” concluded Dacko. “They have matured into the type of people you love to coach.”
Archived article by Scott Jones