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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Bofia plays on

    Mike Rittersports writer
    Mike Ritter
    sports writer

    Arizona women’s basketball player Suzy Bofia is a rather imposing figure.

    Standing at 6-foot-6, she is the second-tallest player in the Pacific 10 Conference – to her twin sister Beatrice, 6-foot-7.

    When it became known after the Red-Blue Game on Nov. 1 that Suzy would be playing without Beatrice, who tore her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and meniscus during warm-ups, there was cause for concern within the team.

    Then it was announced two weeks ago that the other twin, Suzy had been playing on a torn ACL since July. She didn’t want to admit any pain, so she kept playing – despite a serious injury.

    “”When she was injured, we had an MRI done in early August, and she continued to play on it without our knowledge in pickup games,”” UA head coach Joan Bonvicini said. “”She had the MRI and it was clearly an ACL (tear), and the doctors and trainers knew she absolutely, positively was not going to have surgery.

    “”The doctor recommended it, but you can’t force someone to have surgery if they don’t want it,”” she added. “”So they fitted her for a brace and we really didn’t talk about it much at all until now.””

    Bonvicini also said Suzy had suffered a small tear in her meniscus similar to Beatrice’s, but the severity of the injury wasn’t nearly as bad. Suzy committed to playing on a torn ACL for the entire season.

    Beatrice has since taken a medical redshirt and still has two years of eligibility left. Suzy has one.

    Could it have been that Suzy downplayed her injury all season for the sake of the team?

    The answer to that question remains unknown, as nearly everyone associated with the team prefers to keep her injury status on the hush. When Suzy was asked if her knee was hurting at all, she replied with a simple “”No.””

    But Beatrice, who is now rehabbing her knee and starting to do light exercises without a knee brace, had no problem speaking on terms of her sister’s injury.

    “”She’s stronger than most people think,”” Beatrice said. “”I don’t worry a lot about her. I know that she’s fine. You just have to trust her. She’s fine.””

    While Suzy’s teammates and coaches may not be concerned about her further increasing the severity of her injury, every day she runs the risk of further damage around the knee.

    The ACL connects the femur and tibia bones around the knee, and helps stabilize the leg during movement. When the tendon is torn, a player’s knee gets twisted or hit, and he or she might feel a pop as the knee gives out, according to WebMD.

    “”Once it’s torn, it’s torn,”” said the women’s team trainer, Leanna Olivar. “”The only thing you risk … injuring is ruining your meniscus or the cartilage that’s around the bone of the femur.

    “”So those are the risks that you take once you tear it, but once it’s torn, it doesn’t grow back like a tendon would in your patella.””

    Bonvicini said in no way was there any pressure for Suzy to play once the injury was learned.

    “”Once she made the decision that she was going to play with the brace, I did everything I possibly could to not think about it and not to bring it up,”” she said. “”We haven’t made a big deal about it at all. We’ve just let her play. It doesn’t hurt; it hasn’t gotten worse, so we don’t bring it up.””

    While it is true that Suzy could have just as easily had surgery and applied for a medical redshirt and finished her UA career at the same time as her sister, Suzy’s overall strength and commitment to her basketball team is unquestionable. Her teammates have noticed.

    “”I can’t imagine playing on a torn ACL and how much pain it would probably cause you,”” said guard Joy Hollingsworth. “”But she’s just totally worked through it. She’s never complained about her knee hurting or anything.

    “”When we run lines (in practice), she always makes the times. It just shows how powerful and strong she is.””

    At the beginning of the season, Bonvicini likened the Bofias to “”twin towers.”” She recruited them to bring post play the team lacked in 2005-06.

    “”Beatrice and Suzy give us a presence inside that we haven’t had,”” Bonvicini said at media day in October. “”Both are above 6’5″”, and to have two players that big is huge.””

    Coaches and players had big preseason expectations of the Bofias, who originally hail from Cameroon in Africa.

    They spent the past two seasons at Illinois Central College, where they both led a national championship team last year.

    Despite the injury, Suzy has been a key post player for the Wildcats this year. In 27 games, nine of them starts, she has averaged 4.6 points per game, fifth on the team.

    There are various extents of an ACL tear, as evidenced in the comparison between the sisters, and surgery is not always the proper treatment, although in several cases, surgery eventually occurs, according to WebMD.

    For most people, including Suzy, surgery is no emergency, but having surgery comes with being able to get back to full strength on the court.

    “”I think Suzy definitely wants surgery right after the season is over,”” Bonvicini said. “”It has been impressive, because she has played, and at times I think it really hurts her ability to play physical as well as her lateral movement, but you can’t question that she is a tough kid.””

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