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, April 05, 2006

Augustus Leads WNBA Draft Day Parade

By Kate Burkholder

BOSTON — With the first pick in the 2006 WNBA draft at the Boston Exhibition and Convention Center Wednesday afternoon, the Minnesota Lynx selected Louisiana guard and two-time National Player of the Year Seimone Augustus.
The Lynx finished 14-20 — sixth in the league — under head coach Suzie McConnell Serio in 2005.

Augustus’ 19.3 career scoring average led LSU to back-to-back Final Four appearances, including this season as LSU fell to Duke in Sunday’s national semifinal game.

“I can relate [this] back to freshman year where you aren’t the star player,” Augustus said of her No. 1 pick and venturing to the WNBA as a rookie. “You need to get into a comfort zone, need to learn your teammates, their personalities, see where you fit in — and mainly just find out what you can do and what you can’t do and what is good for the team.”

Rutgers’ Cappie Pondexter was drafted second by the Phoenix Mercury. Pondexter became the second Rutgers player taken in the first round (Sue Wicks, sixth, 1997) and the highest Scarlet Knight selection ever. The All-American guard’s 22 ppg led the Knights to the Elite 8 a season ago and the Sweet 16 in 2005-06.

Pondexter will join a Mercury team led by coach Paul Westhead, with emphasis on fast-breaking and high scoring, in addition the strict defense that Pondexter is used to from playing under defensive master C. Vivian Stringer.

“I definitely think me going to Phoenix will be a smooth transition,” Pondexter said yesterday. “Knowing the fact that I’m coming from a program where Coach Stringer definitely stresses defense and knowing that the new coach I have is the same way, I think it’s going to be great.”

Selected third by the Charlotte Sting was Duke University guard Monique Currie.

After dealing with the heartbreak of the Blue Devils’ loss Tuesday in the national championship game, Currie will join a Sting squad that is looking to recover from a 2005 campaign that pitted them dead last in the WNBA at 6-28.

Currie’s smooth outside shot and ability to control the floor will supplement a Sting team with a need for backcourt help.

“There are definitely a lot of mixed emotions going on,” Currie said. “I am still disappointed about [the game] but at the same time I am extremely excited about going to Charlotte and making one of my ultimate dreams come true.”

Currie will get the chance to stay in North Carolina after four years in Durham, while originally hailing from Washington, D.C.

The fourth went went to the San Antonio Silver Stars, who selected Baylor’s Sophia Young. Young was an integral part of the Bears team that won the national championship in 2004-05, averaging 18 points for her career while pulling down 10 rebounds for the career double-double.

San Antonio barely snuck in before Charlotte with a record of 7-27 that put them second to last in the standings last season, and Young will look to supplement a team with a lot of question marks and issues with depth.

It will also give Young the opportunity to stay in Texas.

“That’s very exciting and I’m sure my Baylor fans are really excited because before I left they were hoping I would come to San Antonio, and now I’m there,” Young said. “It’s great that I get to stay in Texas. I’ve spoken to some of the girls on the San Antonio team and they seem like really cool people.”

Rounding out the top five in this year’s draft was the Los Angeles Sparks, who allowed another college athlete to stay close to home by selecting UCLA’s Lisa Willis.

Willis averaged 14.2 points in her career — including 18 her senior season — to lead UCLA to an upset in the Pac-10 tournament over Stanford.

She was a member of the All Pac-10 first team in 2005 and 2006, and will look to add to a Sparks team that finished an even 17-17 last season. The finish was LA’s worst since 1998 as the team was plagued with injury throughout the 2005 campaign.

Temple’s Candice Dupree went sixth (Chicago Sky), while other top picks included Utah’s Shono Thorburn (Minnesota), Miami’s Tamara James (Washington), UNC’s La’Tangela Atkinson (Indiana), and Tennessee’s Tye’sha Fluker (Charlotte).

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