The Michigan Daily-Tuesday, January 30, 1979-Page 11
FROM BENCH-SITTER TO HERO
Steadiness marks Bodnar s play
Michigan's 16-game cage
By GARY KICINSKI
Anyone who has seen Marty Bodnar
play basketball knows that he's not the
flashiest guard in the Big Ten.
Nor would one say that he's the
quickest, or the best ball-handler
around. In fact, to the casual courtside
observer, Marty Bodnar's most
distinguished feature might be his
tongue, which typically protrudes from
the corner of his mouth and curls
around his upper lip in an aggressive
But Bodnar, a 6-3 sophomore shar-
pshooter from Barberton, Ohio, has
made a ,profound impression on his
coaches with his hustle, desire and con-
Last season Marty and his twin
brother Mark spent a lot of time lear-
ning Big Ten basketball from the ben-
ch. Together they logged just under
seven minutes of playing time per
game - meaning they spent a collec-
tive 73 minutes on the sidelines.
Mark's bid for a starting spot this
year was hampered by a broken bone in
his left foot, but when coach Johnny
Orr went shopping for a starting guard
in the re-season he found a surprise
candidate in Marty.
While Mark continues to sizzle in
practice, he is still hounded by misfor-
tune, as yesterday he crashed into Thad
Garner and required six stitches to
close a gash. Marty, meanwhile, landed
the starting spot on opening day and
has been Michigan's most consistent
player all season.
Even Marty was surprised by his
sudden ascension from bench-warmer
to net-warmer. "I was surprised the
way things turned out," Bodnar said.
"When I cafne into camp last October, I
wasn't really thinking about starting,
and I didn't know if I was able to do it. I
was kind of apprehensive, but as the
season progressed I started playing
"I was just fortunate to have a real
good game (in the season opener)
against Central to build up my con-
Bodnar burned the nets for 18 points
against Central's zone defense and has
been the Wolverines' most reliable out-
side shooter ever since. He currently
totes a field goal accuracy of 54 per
cent, second on the team behind Alan
Hardy's 57.3 per cent touch.
Bodnar started Michigan's first 14
contests and was the only Wolverine to
"I didn't really feel that bad not star-
ting," Bodnar said. "I came off the
bench (in the last two games) and I
really kind of like it in a way. You
prepare differently for a game when
you're not starting. I think I might be a
little bit more relaxed if I don't start. It
really doesn't bother me as long as I
keep playing well. That's the main
'You always dream
making a last-second
shot, but you never really
dream of making a last
second layup. There's a
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do so, but in last week's home match
against Michigan State he was replaced
by defensive specialist Tom Staton.
Bodnar didn't complain, however, and
wound up playing a vital role off the
"His mental attitude is phenomenal,"
said Orr. "He never said a word about
it, and I put him in there and he played
just as hard as he would if we'd started
him in there."
"He did one hell of a job," agreed
assistant coach Bill Frieder. "He got
us back in the game after we got down
by 13 points. And again at Illinois we
called on him, and he did a great job."
At Illinois, of course, it was Bodnar
who picked up Staton's steal and
dramatically outraced the buzzer to nip
the Illini 56-54. "You always dream of
making a last-second shot," Bodnar
said, "but you never really dream of
making a last-second layup. There's a
difference. Tommy Staton made a hell
of a steal on it. My one concern was to
go as hard at that bucket as I could. I
knew it had to be good because I heard
the buzzer as it left my hand."
It was the kind of clutch basket Bod-
nar now is being counted on to make,
and his expression about playing time
typifies the kind of attitude that the
coaches say he possesses.
thing I keep telling myself - to keep
Playing well is what Bodnar has been
doing more consistently than any other
Wolverine this year. His nine points per
game average ranks fourth on the
team, and he leads the club in assists
with 47 on the year. Not All-American
statistics, but steadiness is seldom
reflected in numbers.
"I think that you could say
throughout the season he's been our
most consistent player," Frieder said.
"As far as improvement goes, he's
probably our most improved player,"
Orr added. "I think Marty Bodnar's a
bona fide Big Ten guard. He's done a
great job offensively and defensively,
and I don't think anyone hustles more
than he does."
That's the image Bodnar mainly
presents - a hustling, intelligent
player, a guy who seldom makes
mistakes. "Marty is my type of
player," Frieder said. "Some players
would rather be fancy than good. Marty
would rather be good than fancy.
"He does everything the way it's
taught, and he does it the fundamental
way. And that's the way you win
basketball games," Frieder added.
And what about Bodnar's aggressive
lip-licking defense? "Everybody tells
me that. . . that I play defense and do
other things with my tongue out," Bod-
nar said, tongue-in-cheek. "I've never
had it hit - the only time I bite it is
when I'm eating or something," he
It has become the Bodnar trademark,
symbolic of his gritty play. But it won't
be long before Bodnar's spirited and
steady play becomes his trademark in-
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Doily Photo by BRAD BENJAMIN
MICHIGAN SOPHOMORE guard Marty Bodnar pulls up for a jump shot in the
team's opening game against Central Michigan. Bodnar is the Wolverines' most
improved player this yer, according to Coach Johnny Orr. His last-second layup
defeated Illinois on Saturday.
THREE OTHERS INDUCTED:
Ex-Lion Lary named to HOF
TWO SETS: 10:30-11:30;
LOS ANGELES (AP)-Dick Butkus may need an
artificial right knee some day because of an injury that
prematurely ended his National Football League career, but
the former middle linebacker of the Chicago Bears says he'd
do it all over again.
"My only regret is that after nine years my career was cut
short because of the injury," Butkus said yesterday. "But I
was very lucky, I was able to do something I was virtually
BUTKUS DID WHAT he was made for. He did it so well he
was selected to the NFL's Hall of Fame at the earliest
possible time, five years after retirement.
Joining Butkus as the newest Hall of Fame members were
quarterback Johnny Unitas, offensive tackle Ron Mix and
defensive back Yale Lary. Their selection brings to 102 the
number of former NFL greats so honored.
After an outstanding college career at Illinois, Butkus
played for the Chicago Bears from 1965-73. An All-Pro eight
times, he said he doesn't believe football has changed that
much over the years.
"IT'S STILL A GAME of blocking and -tackling," he said.
"Different offenses and defenses dictate different strategies.
The main difference now is the 3-5-2 defense, that's the only
"It's an understatement to say how thrilled I am," said
Lary, who played for Texas A&M before joining the Detroit
Lions. "This really caps off my career, to be with such a
select group. The fact that only four other defensive backs
have been picked makes it an even bigger thrill.
"I really owe Detroit, the NFL and football a lot," he ad-
ded. "When I first came up, people were still running the
single tying. I saw football change from a closed game to an
"I SYMPATHIZE WITH defensive backs today. They just
about have their hands tied behind backs."
Lary punted and returned punts for the Lions in addition
to his duties as a defensive back. He played for Detroit in
1952-53 and from 1956-64.
Mix became the second former American Football
Leaguer to be named to the Hall of Fame. The former
Southern California standout played for the Los Angeles
Chargers in 1960, the San Diego Chargers from 1961-69 and
the Oakland Raiders in 1971.
"I'M EXTREMELY THRILLED, it was such a shock to
receive that call, my mind just started.racing," said Mix,
referring to his being informed of the Hall of Fame honor.
"Particularly thrilling is that Lance Alworth, my teammate,
was the first AFL inductee and I was the second.
"As an offensive lineman, it's nice to get some attention,"
Like Butkus, Unitas was voted into the Hall of Fame at the
earliest possible time. From his home in Baltimore, he
played down his selection.
"It's a nice tribute, I suppose," the former Colts' quarter-
back said. "But if you stay around long enough, you have to
end up somewhere."
Unitas stayed around, as he put it, long enough to com-
plete 2,830 career passes for 40,239 yards during an 18-year
career. He threw 290 touchdown passes, including at least
one in a record 47 straight games.
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