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.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Hammon Almost Rescues West

(Guru's Note: Kathleen Radebaugh is a student at St. Joseph's who writes for the Hawk campus newspaper and joined us this weekend for WNBA All-Star coverage.)

By Kathleen Radebaugh

WASHINGTON — For Becky Hammon, this All-Star weekend is not a break, or a breather, or even a chance to side step one's competitive nature.

No, it’s still a basketball game and for this San Antonio Silver Stars guard, who was traded from the New York Liberty on draft day in April, the word passive is not in her vocabulary.

Unable to defeat the Eastern Conference in a 103-99 loss, Hammon showed her competitive nature and until the final buzzer in the fourth.

With two minutes left in regulation, Hammon hit two three-pointers Sunday bringing the game within one possession, 101-98.

“I am very competitive,” said Hammon. “We were trying to crawl back in there and make it interesting, but we came up a couple shots short.”

This is the first time Hammon has played for the West after having been an East starter. The only other player to achieve that notoriety was Dawn Staley, the Temple coach who started on the West last summer representing the Houston Comets before she retired. Previously she had represented the former Charlotte Sting on the East.

In Sunday's game, after Hammon’s three, Eastern Conference player Anna DeForge made an 18’ jump shot and Hammon was fouled by Deanna Nolan, a guard from Indiana Fever. Hammon made one-of-one free throw attempts, and the Western Conference was not able to overcome the East.

The difference in the second half for the Eastern Conference team was their ability to make more rebounds. Bill Laimbeer, coach of the WNBA champion Detroit Shock who handled the Eastern Conference, believes that was the difference in snatching the win away from the West.

“First half, they [West] got way too many rebounds,” said Laimbeer. “Even the crowd was oohing and aahing at how many rebounds the West was getting.”

Hammon agrees.

“Rebounding is a huge part of the basketball game,” said Hammon. “We came out hitting a lot of shots, but stopped going inside, and we needed more inside presence in the second half. I know I would have liked to win this game.”

Hammon’s determination was obvious in the beginning and the reason she played 23 minutes and even before she started the game. Hammon won the pre-game shooting contest, “Dribble, Dish, and Swish,” in a time of 27.1 seconds, beating defending champion Seimone Augustus of the Minnesota Lynx.

In the game, Hammon forced a turnover against Nolan and ended the first quarter with four assists. Like the first quarter, Hammon began with a steal against Alana Beard, a guard for the Washington Mystics. Hammon suffered though some of her own personal turnovers but had a great inside drive to the basket to extend the West’s lead by ten, 46-36. In the third, Hammon had back-to-back jumpers, closing the gap by three, 65-62.

“She [Becky] is the ultimate competitor,” said Coach Jenny Boucek of the Sacramento Monarchs who handled the Western Conference. “We have a lot of them. I could go down the list on this team. I’ve coached several of them in the regular season, and I know we had some of the greatest competitors in the world out there on the floor tonight.”

Hammon cannot wait to face some of those greatest competitors in regular season play against Los Angeles on Tuesday, July 17. She will face All-Star teammate Taj McWilliams-Franklin. Prior to her All-Star appearance, Hammon was the leading scorer ten times this season for the Silver Stars.

Hammon is looking for her eleventh.

She'll get that chance Tuesday night when the first-place Silver Stars visit the Los Angeles Sparks.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great game, great article ... two smiling sports fans in Exton

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