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.

Friday, March 09, 2007

WNBA: Phoenix No. 1 Pick Undetermined as Parker Stays at Tennessee

By Mel Greenberg

With the WNBA draft less than a month away, the Phoenix Mercury will return to the research department in terms of holding the No. 1 pick.

There had been a buzz that Tennessee sophomore superstar Candace Parker, a candidate for national player of the year, was considering skipping her remaining eligibity and turning pro because she might be graduating ahead of schedule.

Parker was red-shirted two seasons ago because of an injury.
If that had been true, the speculated move would have made the Mercury’s choice quite simple.

But Parker told USA Today in Friday’s editions she was going to remain with the Volunteers, although it could be noted she did not speak of her plans beyond next season when she could still leave Tennessee early.

``Obviously, if she was going to come out, she would have been our No. 1 pick,’’ said Mercury general manager Ann Meyers-Drysdale said Friday. ``I’m happy she’s staying at Tennessee and playing for (coach) Pat (Summitt) and we move on.’’

Meyers-Drysdale, a member of the Naismith and Women’s Basketball Halls of Fame, was a star at UCLA in the late 1970s and joined Phoenix after the season ended.

Prior to that, she had been a color analyst for various national broadcasting networks, including ESPN. In that previous occupation, she would have been deeply involved at this time of year with coverage of conference women’s tournaments as well as the NCAA women’s tournament, also.

``I really like this side of the business,’’ Meyers-Drysdale said. ``You get your deals done and you build your team.’’

Earlier this week, the Mercury re-signed guard Penny Taylor from the World Champion Australian team. Phoenix also announced a trade with the Indiana Fever brining reserver forward and former Stanford star Olympia Scott to the Mercury in exchange for former Connecticut star Ann Strother, who was a rookielast season.

A year ago former NBA coach Paul Westhead, who also coached at Loyola Marymount and at La Salle, took over the Mercury and brought his high-octane offense to the Southwest.

Phoenix took former Rutgers star Cappie Pondexter with the No. 2 overall pick in the draft last April. The Chicago native, combined with former Connecticut superstar Diana Taurasi, fueled a late-season push that ended with the Mercury left out of the playoffs on the wrong side of a tie-breaker with the Houston Comets.

Although most believe Duke point guard sensation Lindsey Harding or North Carolina point guard star Ivory Latta might be the best overall senior, Phoenix is focused on improving itself in the post to help Westhead’s torrid pace on offense.

Thus, names such as Ohio State senior center Jessica Davenport are in the mix for the number one selection. However, the Mercury could still make a trade to get a valuable WNBA player with post experience in exchange for the slot that another team could desire to improve its backcourt.

In the other major story that has developed, Meyers-Drysdale deferred from commenting until learning more about the situation at LSU where Pokey Chatman suddenly resigned this week

News reports soon after surfaced that Chatman had an inappropriate relationship with a former player. ESPN.com more spefically cited sources claiming Pokey’s departure occurred ``after the university became aware of an alleged inappropriate sexual relationship between Chatman and a former player on Chatman's team.’’

-- Mel

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