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, July 24, 2013

Guru's WNBA Report: Delle Donne Suffers Concussion During Sky Collapse to Washington

By Mel Greenberg

Former Delaware sensation Elena Delle Donne, the first rookie to become the top votegetter for the WNBA's All-Star game, suffered a concussion during the third quarter of the Chicago Sky's implosion from a first-half 21-point lead to the Washington Mystics early Wednesday afternoon, making her doubtful for this Saturday's annual pro women's basketball classic at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut.

The injury marred what had been the most targeted of three Eastern homecomings for Delle Donne here at the Verizon Center since she was made the No. 2 overall pick by Chicago in April's draft and also illustrated how quickly things can turn on a dime in the WNBA as they do in other sports and walks of life.

The other stops have been to the New York Liberty at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., and to the Connecticut Sun, site of Saturday's All-Star game.

Delle Donne's older brother Gene, who is also serving as her agent, said after the game she had suffered a concussion when she went down during the third quarter, though Sky coach Pokey Chatman used the phrase concussion-like symptoms because she had not yet talked to the doctors following the 82-78 loss heading into the break.

Delle Donne was to take a baseline test when returning to Chicago and if she passed there was speculation she might appear, though Chatman noted the WNBA is very careful when dealing with concussions and players are tended to not be rushed back into active duty.

Chicago, which had yet to make the playoffs since joining the league in 2006, arrived here as the visiting partner to the Mystics' camp day promotion off the best start in franchise history holding first place in the Eastern Conference with a 12-4 record and a 1.5 lead over the second place Atlanta Dream.

Besides the youngsters, a sizeable portion of the Delaware faithful, who live less than two hours from here to the north, helped make the announced crowd of 14,411 the largest of the season in Washingtron.

Delle Donne, who has become the most celebrated of the three standout stars of the 2013 NCAA collegiate season since the season got under way, had scheduled a postgame autograph session here, which was cancelled in the wake of the injury.

Ironically, from the super-hyped focus since last fall by ESPN, the NCAA and now the WNBA over the "Three to See," including Delle Donne, former Baylor star Brittney Griner and former Notre Dame sensation Skylar Diggins, none of them may appear Saturday.

Griner, the overall number one pick of the Phoenix Mercury, has missed games recently because of a sprained ankle and did not make the trip in Wednesday's loss to the Western Conference front-running Minnesota Lynx and her status is unknown.

She was voted a starter on the West squad and with Delle Donne on the East, it is the first time the top two rookie selections were set to play at the opening tip of the All-Star game.

Diggins, taken number three behind Delle Donne, by the Tulsa Shock has struggled and was not voted by the fans nor was she named one of the six reserves named by the Western Conference coaches to fill out the 11-member squad.

Even if Griner can't play it is questionable whether league president Laurel Richie would name Diggins as a Western replacement since there are others not named who might be deemed more worthy for participation.

Delle Donne, a 6-foot-5 swing player, arrived here Wednesday as the top rookie scorer with an 18.6 points per game scoring average and has come into the league after finishing fifth as the all-time NCAA career scorer with 3,039 points and transforming Delaware from a nice mid-major program to a national force, taking the Blue Hens last March to their first-ever Sweet 16 appearrance in the NCAA women's basketball tournament.

She had struggled in recent games and was 2-for-15 from the field Wednesday, scoring 11 points, before being taken to the locker room and sidelined the rest of the game.

Chatman had indicated in a recent game in New York she expected Delle Donne was going to hit a wall soon, not like other rookie sensations who have outstanding collegiate careers and then in a short turnaround time have to be acclimated for new competition and a new lifestyle in the WNBA in terms of the routine of travel, practice and game days.

Delle Donne, who originally committed to powerful Connecticut before deciding that Delaware close to home was more conducive, struggled with nagging injuries in college and battled Lyme disease, causing her to miss 22 games.

"I think this will be a nice break when you usually hit that rookie wall," Chatman said. "She's a rookie in stature but obviously she plays the minutes of a six-year vet.

"I think it is great for her that this comes at a really good time."

With many of her followers cheering Delle Donne and the Sky on, Chicago, which had gotten off to lopsided starts in recent games, seemed ready to roll again when it built the 21-point lead in the first half.

But Washington (9-9), which had the worst record in the league last season with only five wins, has experienced resiliency under new coach Mike Thibault, who had made the Connecticut Sun a perennial contender for 10 seasons before being let go last winter sfter the Sun, which won the regular season Eastern Conference, fell to the eentual Indiana Fever in the deciding game of the Eastern championship.

The Mystics, who failed to land in position to get one of the top three picks, rode the play of rookie Emma Meeseman of Belgium, who got all 12 of her points in the fourth quarter.

Newcomer Ivory Latta, the former North Carolina star who came in a trade before the season from Tulsa, .had a game high 18 points and 13 assists and on Tuesday was named by the East coaches as one of the six All-Star reeserves, marking her first appearance in the event.

Former Duke star Monique Currie had 14 points, while Tayler Hill, taken fourth overall out of Ohio State, in the draft, scored 11 points.

Former Rutgers star Kia Vaughn had nine points off the bench for Washington while her former Scarlet Knights teammate Matee Ajavon scored sevven points as did former Maryland star Crystal Langhorne,who joined Latta as an East All-Star reserve from the Mystics.

Sylvia Fowles, named to the East All-Stars as a reserve, scored 21 points for Chicago, while former Rutgers star Epiphanny Prince finished with 18 points for the Sky.

Former UConn star Swin Cash had 18 points for the Sky, while former Rutgers star Epiphanny Prince scored 18 points.

"You never want to miss an opportunity," Cash said of the Sky squandering another potential win. "We'll take this and use it as a learning experience."

-- Mel

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


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