Megan McCray knew something was wrong.
In the final seconds of a University at Buffalo basketball practice last January, she crumpled to the floor in pain.
Or was it fear? The feeling was all too familiar for the 5-foot-9 junior guard. She tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee as a high school senior in Corry, Pa., shortly after committing to UB.
This time, it was the left knee.
As McCray was examined, the only thing she thought about was having to go through the pain and hard work to rehabilitate all over again.
One thing she didn't consider was the injury might be career-threatening. Never entered her mind.
UB coach Sal Buscaglia tried to prepare her for that possibility, but McCray wouldn't hear of it.
"I knew I would be back," she said. "I knew what I was facing with the rehab, but I was prepared to pay that price again."
To the amazement of everyone, McCray was back on the floor when UB began practice this fall. She won a starting job and is playing as if she had never been away, averaging 7.5 points, three rebounds and two assists.
"Of all the players I've coached, I have never had one who works harder and commits herself to the game the game like Megan," Buscaglia said. "And I felt that way before her injury. She comes to the office and watched film even when she was injured. She's a real student of the game.
"You don't appreciate someone until they are gone. With Megan, we didn't realize how important she was until she got injured."
McCray was missed last season. She gave the Bulls quality depth as a scorer and defender at both guard positions.
Without her, point guard Catherine Jacob and Brenna Doty had to log additional minutes that eventually took their toll by the Mid-Continent Conference tournament.
"I think having to sit and watch my teammates and not be able to help them probably hurt more than the injury," said McCray, who was voted a co-captain by her teammates. "But sitting out made me a better player because I now have a better appreciation for the game and how to play it."
She has come back without the slightest hint of an injury and is making a difference once again for the Bulls (8-3), who visit Marshall on Sunday.
"We wouldn't be where we are without her," Buscaglia said.
Bell starts fast for UB
Tiffany Bell is another UB player off to a terrific start.
Bell was named the Mid-Continent Conference player of the week after collecting 15 points and nine rebounds in 24 minutes during a 67-58 win over Syracuse last Saturday.
Bell, a freshman center, has given the Bulls a solid presence in the low post. She is averaging 9 points and 7.1 rebounds.
Farkas boosts BC
Anyone who watched Jeff Farkas play hockey for the Nichols School and Niagara Scenics probably figured he would be a success in college. So far, so good.
The Williamsville native has become a key player at Boston College, which is enjoying its best start (11-5-1) since 1990. The Eagles are ranked ninth in the latest USA Today/American Hockey Magazine poll.
Farkas, a sophomore, has appeared in all 17 games and is third on the team with 19 points, including a team-high 15 assists.
"He's a terrific young player," coach Jerry York said.
Division III stars
Local football products Tom Massey (Southwestern) and Dave Russell (Amherst) have been named to the Division III All-America first team.
Massey, a junior free safety at Brockport, tied a school record and finished fourth in the nation with nine interceptions. He also had 59 tackles, broke up two passes and recovered a fumble.
Russell, a defensive end at Hobart, had 70 tackles. He is Hobart's career sacks leader with 33, including 10 this season.