They've gone through physical pain to achieve success on the court. But Don Imus' comments were their toughest opponent yet.
"What hurts the most about this situation is that Mr. Imus knows not one of us personally. He doesn't know that Matee is the funniest person you will ever meet; Kia is the big sister you never had but always wanted, and Piph would make an unbelievable lawyer one day," says Rutgers Player Heather Zurich at a press conference Tuesday.
"If [Imus] is going toe-to-toe with an Ann Coulter or John McCain--fine. They can defend themselves but those girls were not there," says author and commentator Dr. Julianne Malveaux.
She spoke to Jarvis Christian College students about economic issues minorities face today. She says Don Imus' comments show there's not always a level playing field for young blacks.
But she says anyone across the board should be repulsed by what was said.
"If you're not black you're not female, you've got a mother. You've got a sister. Do you want her to be referred to in that way?," says Dr. Malveaux.
"All that you did was to increase the divide among cultures," says Martha Roane, assistant professor of education at Jarvis Christian College.
Roane is a long-time educator and says judging people on the surface is just wrong.
"My white hair does not determine my ability to be human, the ability to think, the ability to respond to people," says Roane.
Danielle Carpenter, a junior at Jarvis, wasn't surprised about what was said. She believes more should be done about comments degrading women in television shows and music lyrics.
"I have a younger sister who can easily hear these lyrics and things that degrade women and I do think that's inappropriate," says Carpenter.
Dr. Malveaux says Imus' suspension is an appropriate first step forward, not backwards.
"The fact that others are not offended doesn't set us back. It makes us understand what more education we have to do," says Dr. Malveaux.
Dr. Malveaux says she hopes Imus uses his suspension to speak to others about this learning lesson.