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.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

"D" Turns Cinderella Without Glass Slippers

By Mel Greenberg

WASHINGTON _ It was late in Tuesday night’s WNBA game in the MCI Center between the Washington Mystics and Phoenix Mercury when a Star Wars confrontation broke out between the Mercury’s Diana Taurasi and the Mystics’ DeLisha Milton-Jones.

In a matter of seconds, Taurasi transformed from a former University of Connecticut super sensation into Cinderella woman.

Taurasi is no Russell Crowe, nor is she a bad actor, but in a game dominated by physical play, last season’s rookie of the year managed to become associated in some way with four technical fouls assessed to players and coaches arguing calls involving Taurasi in a 77-56 victory by the Mystics over the Mercury.

The outcome of the game had already been well decided when Taurasi, perhaps inadvertently, collided with Mystics newcomer and WNBA All-Star DeLisha Milton, who immediately became interested in delivering some retaliation.

However, Washington teammate Chasity Melvin rushed to save Milton from herself as she got up off the floor and went after the Southern California native.

Taurasi shrugged off the confrontation initially, giving her spin of the situation:

“She ran into me. She fell. That’s about it,” Taurasi explained.

Milton-Jones was immediately ejected from the game and Taurasi was assessed a technical.

“I don’t know what she thought,” Taurasi said of Milton-Jones’ response. “That’s all I have to say about that.”

A few minutes later, Taurasi commented that she had been in the weight room a lot lately, trying to explain what caused Milton-Jones to hit the floor.

Afterwards, Milton-Jones apologized for her actions but also was seeking some justice in the game that was witnessed by a crowd of 10,980, including new WNBA president Donna Orender.

“I know I need to be fined for my actions and she needs to be fined for hers as well,” said Milton-Jones, who arrived here in March from the Los Angeles Sparks in the trade involving former Mystics All-Star Chamique Holdsclaw.

“I didn’t throw a punch,” Milton-Jones described the scene. “I did shove her. I don’t know if that’s the equivalent of throwing a punch or not. That’s still to be determined.”

When asked if she was glad Melvin was around to prevent a recurrence of a knee injury that sidelined her most of last season, the former Florida star responded, “I was hoping all the media row and all the fans were on the row helping her.”

Milton-Jones, who has respect for Taurasi’s game, said she plans to talk her former Olympic teammate of last summer, expressing concern how some of Taurasi’s actions on the court could result in a career-ending injury to an opponent.

The Mystics improved to 5-6 and the Mercury, drifting further from playoff contention, fell to 3-8, a record far different than what Taurasi experienced in four seasons at UConn.

Second-year Mystics star Alana Beard, the No. 2 overall draft pick of last season, led Washington with 19 points and sported a nasty bump below her left eye.

Melvin had 13 points, and Milton-Jones scored 12 points.

The Mercury were led by Anna DeForge’s 18 points, and Taurasi finished with 16 points.

That’s it for Tuesday.

Until next time,

-- Mel

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