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, May 16, 2010

WNBA: Pondexter Lighting New Liberty Glory Days?

By Mel Greenberg

NEW YORK - WNBA Liberty fans got their official introduction to Cappie's World in New York's home and season-opening 85-82 win against the Chicago Sky Sunday in Madison Square Garden.

Now all that is needed is for word of mouth from the announced crowd of 12,088 to take effect to fill more seats and the women's pro league summer in the famous arena here might become similar to the early years of the franchise's existence when notables of the entertainment world could be seen courtside.

For the uniformed, "Cappie" is Cappie Pondexter, the former Rutgers star who most recently along with former UConn sensation Diana Taurasi helped bring a pair of WNBA championships to Phoenix Mercury, including one last season.

Having since expressed a desire to move elsewhere, the Chicago native got dealt here as the key player in a mega-three-team swap involving Chicago andPhoenix.

Pondexter was the goto player leading the way with 22 points and eight assists helping the Liberty to avoid a total collapse after blowing a 16-point lead New York built in the third quarter.

Veteran Taj McWilliams, a former member of the former Detroit Shock and several more WNBA teams, helped close the deal with key foul shots down the stretch as she finished with 20 points.

Newly-arrived Nicole Powell, the former Stanford standout picked up in the disperal draft of the former Sacramento Monarchs roster, scored 11 pointx as did Essence Carson, yet another former Rutgers star.

Sylvia Fowles had 23 points for the Sky, who lost their second straight game on Chicago's opening road trip that began with a lop-sided setup at the Connecticut Sun Saturday.

But the story was Pondexter, who actually got Liberty coach Anne Donovan mildy upset for a moment early in the fourth period when she tossed a pass in the direction of a teammate.

Funny, it seemed that was a complaint at times in the middle of the last decade from Pondexter's college coach across the Hudson River down south a little bit in New Jersey.

"Cappie has the ability to shoot anytime she wants to and score anytime she wants to," McWilliams said after the game of her new teammate.

"What Anne wanted her to do was instead of just passing and watch, she wanted her to still be in the offense with us because we need her. She draws people, she passes well, but her with the ball in her hand is better than her watching someone else with the ball in their hand."

It's been a while since the Liberty fan base has had that individuals that caused them to return night after night instead of heading to the beach.

Former Lousiaiana Tech star Teresa Weatherspoon, a charter player in 1997, and famous non-draftee signee Becky Hammon, now with San Antonio, were two such individuals.

Donovan wouldn't right out say last year's team would have lost a game drifting out of control, but she did offer that this squad had the ability to right itself to emerge with the victory as opposed to the one that would have found that difficult 12 months ago.

Pondexter is the main reason for that.

Donovan took responsibiity for the loss of momentum due to still figuring out rotations in the offense.

But the light to the immediate future was clearly apparent.

"I have a lot of experience at the highest level and if I can bring that consistently to this team, I think that will be great for us," Pondexter said of the three newcomers to the Liberty. "Nicole is a great player, everybody kinows that. She's won a championship. Taj has won a championship, we all have championship experience so I think, with us, we just have to keep getting better with each other, that's they key."

There was a time on the Liberty's NBA brother Knicks that the masses came to the Garden to view the exploits of Patrick.

That would be Ewing to those of you with short memories.

But Cappie's World may become just as delightful in the months ahead.

-- Mel


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