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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.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Holdsclaw Sparks Los Angeles Over Former Team

By Mel Greenberg

WASHINGTON _ On a night that Lisa Leslie, one of the WNBA’s elite stars, was in single digits with eight points and eight rebounds, Chamique Holdsclaw, another premium talent, tormented her former Washington Mystics’ squad with 27 points and 10 rebounds Thursday night to help the Los Angeles Sparks to an 84-75 victory in the MCI Center that Holdsclaw had called home for the previous six seasons in the WNBA.

The native of New York was traded on March 21, per her request for a fresh start, in exchange for all-star DeLisha Milton-Jones, another all-star, and a first-round draft pick.
Her 10th point Thursday night made her the sixth player in WNBA history to score 3,000 career points.

The victory gave the Sparks a 2-1 record in the early season, while the Mystics fell to 1-2 in the game between cross-conference teams.

Milton-Jones was part of the equation in Thursday night’s game when the tough defender drew her sixth foul to leave the contest with 1 minute, 2 seconds left in the game and the Mystics trailing 76-73.

It was a call that did not sit well with new Washington Mystics coach Richie Adubato, who may be donating some cash to charity today for comments made afterwards in the post game press conference.

“They have a new rule that you can’t touch people in the backcourt,” Adubato said. “But sometimes your better judgment says, `73-70, it’s a great game, I may not call this little touch foul that’s going to put the star out of the game and hurt the other team.”

Tamika Whitmore, who once played for Adubato with the New York Liberty until last season, added 21 points for the Sparks, and Nikki Teasley scored 11.

Charlotte Smith-Taylor led the Mystics with 17 points, Chasity Melvin scored 16, and rookie Laurie Koehn out of Kansas State sizzled with 15 points, shooting 4-for-7 on three-point attempts.

Overall, Washington set a WNBA record with 15 treys, breaking the previous mark of 14, and statistic that helped the Mystics build a 40-28 advantage late in the first half until the Sparks whittled the deficit to 40-36 at the end of the period.

Los Angeles was able to prevail, in part, with a 30-for-33 effort from the foul line, while Washington was 6-for-12.

Unlike the Sparks’ previous visit for an exhibition game several weeks ago, the amount of jeers for Holdsclaw was quite reduced.

Prior to the opening tip, new part-owner Sheila Johnson, a co-founder of the Black Entertainment Television network, who gained control of the Mystics Wednesday, promised the crowd that this would become the “best Mystics franchise ever.”

The Mystics were without second-year star Alana Beard, who is still hobbled with a right-ankle sprain. She is expected to return Wednesday when Adubato will face his former team for the first time this season, which will occur here.

Meanwhile, new Sparks coach Henry Bibby was pleased with the way the his team recovered from Wednesday’s 68-65 loss in Minnesota to the Lynx.

“They felt the loss last night (Wednesday) and that was what I was hoping for,” Bibby said. “We haven’t had that before. Last night was hopefully a little wake-up call to let them know, `You aren’t as good as you think you are, and you gotta go out and play every night, that league has gotten better each year, it doesn’t matter what you did two-three years ago. It’s what’s you’re doing now.”

Although Bibby had preferred a zone defense, he said he was ready to change things up once Washington proved the Mystics could hit three pointers.

As for Holdsclaw’s game in which she had her third straight double double, Bibby said, “She’s just a quiet player. She doesn’t demand the basketball. It’s kind of Lisa Leslie’s team.

“She’s come in and kinda of likes not being the high profile player. She quietly gives you tough baskets every night.”

Holdsclaw said of her performance, “I’m happy to redeem myself for last night’s game (in Minnesota).”

WNBA musings.

Former Boston Celtics star Dave Cowens was announced as the coach of the expansion Chicago team which will begin play next summer.

Bibby was unaware of the news but reacted by saying, “I’m sure that’s going to be a physical team, push, hold, take charge and all of that if they’re going to take on the personality of Dave Cowens.

New York is 0-2 after losing a second-straight home game, this time to the Indiana Fever, 67-59. The Charlotte Sting is still looking for the win column after three games, following a 68-58 loss at home to the Phoenix Mercury.

Next stop – Connecticut on Saturday for the annual Diana Taurasi homecoming with Phoenix.

-- Mel


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