Lieberman's pride in self, in representing women and the women's game, has made for other interesting macho, uh, feminacho, moments. At a late-night party following an all-star game in Portsmouth, Va. a few summers ago, Tom Zaligaris, a starting guard for the North Carolina Tar Heels, made the mistake of expressing his distaste for women's basketball within earshot of Lieberman.
"I guess if you play at North Carolina, you wouldn't know what you're talking about," Lieberman snapped.
"Anybody can shoot 20-footers over a zone," Zaligaris said.
"You sure can't. [ N.C. star Phil] Ford is the only one who does," Lieberman said.
"Let's get it right now," an angry Zaligaris said.
So everybody drove over to the gym, got the maintenance man to open up and at 3 o'clock in the morning Tom Zaligaris and Nancy Lieberman went at each other on the basketball court. The game made headlines in Norfolk. "He beat me 11-2, 11-8," Lieberman says. "What the heck. I had to take a plane at seven a.m."
ODU's talented forward, Ronnie McAdoo ( Bob McAdoo's cousin) says, "Nancy's real nice out there. I go home to North Carolina and tell the guys she would have started on our high school team. They laugh. I just wish they could see her. They wouldn't believe the girl. I'm proud Nancy goes to the same school as me. I watch her in pickup games all the time against the intramural guys. She's killin' 'em. I mean. Nancy's gettin' down."
As a freshman, Nancy could not get down far enough in adjusting to the Lady Monarchs. She was cold, aloof, seldom mixed with the other girls socially. "It's very hard when one person is getting all the recognition that a lot of people work together for," Lieberman says. "I was never close to my teammates. Then at ODU I hadn't set foot on the court, and people already were retiring my jersey. All the girls had read that stuff. It wasn't fair. I didn't know-how to react to them, or them to me. When we won, my picture was in the papers. When we lost, my picture was in the papers. It was awful. The first year the girls and I were just polite, the usual consideration teammates have for each other. But that was all."
"Nancy wasn't obnoxious, or an alley fighter or anything," says teammate Sue Richardson. "It's just that she came in here as the superstar of America. She was always given everything on a platter, done favors for, paid respects and told how great she was. And she was. It was Nancy Lieberman, and then the ODU team. She acted the part. At times Nancy felt she could do it alone and she tried to do it alone. It took her until sophomore year to get over that."
At that juncture into the coaching breach stepped Marianne Crawford Stanley. What Inge Nissen calls "our continuing soap opera" was, well, about to continue.