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.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

WNBA: Staley Earns An All-Star Double

By Mel Greenberg

Add another notable item next to Dawn Staley’s remarkable career achievements in her final season of active competition.

On Wednesday, the three-time Olympic gold medallist and women’s basketball coach of Temple was named one of five starters on the Western Conference squad that will meet the Eastern Conference next Wednesday in the All-Star game at Madison Square Garden in New York.

When the prolific point guard’s name is announced, she will become the only player to have started for both squads in the WNBA’s All-Star history.

Her previous four starts, including last summer, were as a member of the East’s Charlotte Sting before being traded late in the season to the Houston Comets.

Staley, who will also be honored as a member of the WNBA’s All-Decade squad, received 70,801 votes, which in the balloting for West point guards placed her right behind West overall vote-getter Sue Bird, the former Connecticut star with the Seattle Storm who collected 99,258 votes.

The native of North Philadelphia, who played at Dobbins Tech and then went on to lead the University of Virginia to three straight Women’s Final Fours in the early 1990s, was also an all-star in the former American Basketball League.

When Staley’s Charlotte team reached the 2001 WNBA finals, she became the only player to have competed in championship rounds of the Olympics, ABL, WNBA, and the NCAA

Other players who have been on both rosters in the past are Chamique Holdsclaw, who was on the West for the first time last season as a member of the Los Angeles Sparks after being with the Washington Mystics in the East; and Natalie Williams, who was on the West as a member of the former Utah Starzz and in 2003 was on the East as a member of the Indiana Fever.

Margo Dydek joins the “double club” this season as one of three Connecticut Sun starters on the East after being on the West with the San Antonio Silver Stars in 2003. If the Detroit Shock’s Katie Smith gets named with the other reserves Saturday, considered a strong possibility, she, too, will earn a “double club” membership after previously playing for the West as a member of the Minnesota Lynx.

The other West starters named Wednesday were Houston Comets’ 10-year veteran Sheryl Swoopes, Seattle forward Lauren Jackson, who may miss the game to rest nagging injuries, and defending WNBA champion Sacramento Monarchs center Yolanda Griffith.

On the East, Dydek was joined by Sun teammates Nykesha Sales, another former UConn star; and point guard Lindsay Whalen. New York Liberty point guard Becky Hammon earned a starting nod, while the Indiana Fever’s Tamika Catchings was the overall all-starter vote collector with 115,286 ballots.

Meanwhile, if each franchise must have at least one representative, it’s possible that Chicago Sky rookie Candice Dupree, who played for Staley at Temple, might be picked by the WNBA's coaches. She was the expansion team’s best vote getter with 30,688 ballots, ahead of former Rutgers star Chelsea Newton and Stacey Dales, who came out of retirement this season.

- Mel

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