Weekly Feature

2005-11-23 / Sports

Times, they are a changing

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MATT KRUEGER Sports Reporter

While looking back at last year’s basketball results to get ready for the 2005

season, I realized what a big change there will be. For the first time since I started at The Bee in 2000, Jen Buskus will not be the starting point guard for the Orchard Park Lady Quakers.

The diminutive Buskus, listed generously at 5-foot-6 as a senior last year, was the court general even when she was an eighth-grader. Her lack of height and small frame didn’t stop her from banging into much larger girls. Her heart accounted for much of her talent.

In the first game I saw her play, I watched her sprint down the court at Orchard Park High School after a loose ball. Just before it went out of bounds, Buskus dove, grabbed the ball, threw it back into play, and slid head-first into the wall. I thought she would need to be carted off the court on a stretcher, but before I could say “Holy —” she was back on her feet, running full-speed toward the action. There is no quit in that girl.

Buskus, now listed at 5-foot-4, is a guard for the Brockport Golden Eagles and began her college career Tuesday against St. Lawrence.

Named to the All-Bee Team twice, Buskus was a great high school point guard with a nice shooting touch and could run an offense like no one else. I’ll miss watching Jen and her fifth-gear approach to hoops, but I wish her luck in the next stage of her career.

Naturally, this got me thinking about all the other changes I’ve had to adapt to in the past five years and how the local sports world has evolved. For instance, this column would not have even appeared in The Bee five years ago. We didn’t start writing sports commentaries until 2003. And aren’t you glad we did?

We’ve seen the rise and fall of Town of Tonawanda heavyweight boxer “Baby” Joe Mesi, an NHL labor strike, some pretty bad Buffalo Bills teams, the departure of the Arena Football League’s Buffalo Destroyers, and University at Buffalo men’s basketball team’s flirtation with the NCAA tournament.

Take a look at what else has happened in the past five years:

• In covering Cheektowaga sports, I’ve seen all four schools change football coaches. When

started, it was Chuck Tilley (Cheektowaga Central), Dennis Mason (Cleveland Hill), Colin Brinson (John F. Kennedy) and Bob Mullen

Maryvale). Now, it’s Scott Zipp (Central), Glen Graham (Cleve Hill), Mark Ostempowski and Jeff Sabatino (JFK) and Steve Griffin (Maryvale). But it’s not just Cheektowaga. Of the 22 football teams in The Bee’s coverage area, 12 have changed coaches, including East Aurora and Williamsville South, which have each done it twice. Evidently, there is a serious changing of the guard going on.

 Not to be left out of the coaching merry go-round, the Buffalo Bills hired two new head coaches. Wade Phillips left after the 2000 season, replaced by Gregg Williams. Williams got the axe after three seasons in favor of current head coach Mike Mularkey.

 The Empire State Games came to Buffalo in 2003 for only the fourth time in the history of the event. It was one of the better organized ESGs and featured the best amateur athletes the state has to offer.

e-mail: mkrueger@beenews.com

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