Womhoops Guru

Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

WNBA Draft is a Breeze

By Mel Greenberg

SECAUCUS, N.J. _ The WNBA's annual three-round draft flowed quickly and efficiently on a day that contained few surprises.

Janel McCarville, the all-American Minnesota center, was taken as the first pick of the Charlotte Sting, giving all-star veteran point guard Dawn Staley, who also coaches Temple, another new target to feed inside.

McCarville and three others immediately taken after her selection were the consensus top four candidates in no particular order.

The Indiana Fever grabbed Mississippi State all-American guard Tan White as the No. 2 choice before TCU shot-blocker Sandora Irvin, a niece of former Dallas Cowboys star Michael Irvin, was chosen by the Phoenix Mercury.

Needless to say, Irvin was ecstatic to get a chance to play with former Connecticut superstar Diana Taurasi, last season's No. 1 pick.

San Antonio grabbed Kansas State forward Kendra Wecker as the fourth pick.

Penn State guard Tanisha Wright achieved something former teammate Kelly Mazzante was unable to in the previous draft.

Wright went in the first round to the WNBA champion Seattle Storm as the 12th pick, ahead of Oklahoma guard Dionnah Jackson who went to Detroit as the 13th and final first-round pick.

A year ago Mazzante, projected as a high first-rounder, sat forever in the NBA Entertainment Studio headquarters here until Charlotte took her in the second round as the 18th overall pick.

"It hasn't sunk in yet," Wright said in a statement from Penn State of her chance to make the Storm roster. "I'm extremely excited about this opportunity. It's going to be fun.
"There will be a lot of expectations, but it will be a fun time to be out there with all those great players."

Two Rutgers players were taken _ Chelsea Newton went in the second round as the 22nd overall pick to the Sacramento Monarchs, and Rebecca Richmond went in the third round as the 36th overall pick of the New York Liberty, which is coached by former Rutgers star Patty Coyle.

In the manner of the Mazzante letdown a year ago, Notre Dame center Jacqueline Batteast, thought to be a high first-rounder, went in the second round as the 17th overall pick to the Minnesota Lynx.

Stephanie Blackmon of the NCAA-champion Baylor Bears was taken in the third round by Seattle as the next-to-last overall choice at No. 38.

The draftees who make rosters will find somewhat of a comfort and confidence level because many of them will face former teammates or former opponents from their collegiate days who have entered the WNBA the last several seasons.

The big deal of the day involved Connecticut picking Liberty University center Katie Feenstra as the eighth overall pick and then trading her with the Sun's 2006 first-round pick to San Antonio for Margo Dydek, a former No. 1 overall pick.

The draft may not have been as star-studded as in the past but it isn't the end-all of other seasons now that teams can change their rosters through free agency.

"The intangible at this time is how is that designated player going to step in and make an impact on a team," new WNBA president Donna Orender said after performing her first major public function in announcing the picks.

"Sometimes it's a starting five, but it can be a sixth or seventh position, also," Orender said.

"We're in our ninth season," Orender added. "There is ongoing financial success with these teams. There's ongoing fan development. There's ongoing marketing support. When you look at every (measurement) of a sports business, this league, they're all pointing up.

"Do I see positive trends here? Absolutely, every day."

Players who didn't get picked will still have opportunities to sign free-agent days to training camps to try to make a team that way.

We'll be back in a day or so with either news or a life experience or both.

-- Mel


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