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 24, 2015

Back Home in Chicago, All-Timer Cappie Pondexter Looks to Help Bring the Sky a WNBA Title

by ROB KNOX (@knoxrob1)

NEWARK, Del. –
Chicago Sky guard Cappie Pondexter has renewed energy and a stronger sense of urgency as the twilight of her marvelous career dawns.

One of the top 15 players in WNBA history, Pondexter was involved in the biggest trade of the offseason between the New York Liberty and Chicago Sky.

Both teams swapped Rutgers graduates in moves that figure to help each squad. The 32-year-old Pondexter was traded from New York for Epiphanny Prince.

“It’s a business at the end of the day,” Pondexter said before leading the Sky against her former team in the preseason opener for both squads at the University of Delaware’s Bob Carpenter Center Friday night.

“I respect decisions that are made from executives. I thought Chicago was the best choice for my career at this point. I am a seasoned vet and time is winding down. From Chicago’s perspective, I was the piece that they were looking for and I thought I was the perfect fit.”

The Sky reached the WNBA Finals last season only to be swept by the Phoenix Mercury, the team that drafted Pondexter with the second overall pick in 2006 and whom she won the 2007 and 2009 championships with.

Chicago advanced to the WNBA Finals despite a bumpy road that featured plenty of adversity and the youngest roster in the league.

Pretty sure with Pondexter’s addition, the Sky won’t have that distinction this season.

Pondexter’s mission is clear: Get the Sky over the hump and make this season a happier ending. She’s ready to accept the challenge.

More importantly, Pondexter is thrilled to have a chance to play for her hometown professional squad, a thought that seemed unfathomable when she graduated from Chicago’s Marshall High School after being named Miss Illinois Basketball in 2000 and 2001.

“I never thought about playing for my hometown team, but I think it’s a great opportunity to be around family and the people that love me every day,” Pondexter said. “I left when I was 18. So for my whole professional career, they’ve had to fly all around the country to see me play. Now, they get a chance to be around me every day and see me play. It’s going to special and I am looking to seize every moment of it.”

Prince also returned to her home in the deal having grown up in Brooklyn

Pondexter joins a talented Sky team featuring veterans Courtney Vandersloot, Tamera Young, Allie Quigley and a healthy Elena Delle Donne. While the presence of the 6-6 Sylvia Fowles would also help, it appears as if the Sky has moved forward without her in their season plans after she said she was looking for a trade.

A scoring machine with an assassins’ mentality, the ruthless Pondexter brings leadership, mental toughness, championship experience and a chip on her shoulder after averaging a career low 13.2 points last season with the Liberty while battling nagging injuries. Pondexter’s awesome game flows beautifully like lyrics from a Drake rap song.

She’s tough-minded, determined, a top defender and an immediate asset to the Sky.

“She’s been incredible so far in practice,” Delle Donne said before performing in front of her Delaware hometown fans for the second straight season in the packed Bob Carpenter Center. “She brings a certain type of knowledge that we’ve never had. She’s been through a lot and she can teach us a lot so we’re happy that she’s here.”

With good reason as Pondexter is the 2007 WNBA Finals MVP, a six-time WNBA All-Star and is fourth all-time in league history in career scoring average (19.2 points per game) and 30-point games (20).

A three-time All-WNBA selection, Pondexter was the 12th player in WNBA history to reach 5,000 career points. Pondexter also earned a gold medal as a member of the 2008 Olympic team in Beijing.

Now, Pondexter is joining forces with a former WNBA Rookie of the Year (Delle Donne) and sixth woman of the year (Quigley, who starred at DePaul in Chicago). She doesn’t have to perform at an elite level to make an impact. Her presence alone will be a difference and help the Sky contend for a championship this season.

“I believe I fit in well here,” Pondexter said. “This is my third team, but I’ve been around for a long period of time so I know how to mesh with a certain group of women. This group is amazing. They just want to win and get better. They’ve embraced me from the moment that I’ve walked in.”

Now, Pondexter is looking to return that love to the Sky and their faithful fans.

“I am happy to be with this group,” Pondexter said. “They’re making me better. They’re challenging me because there are so many skilled players here.

"I am going against somebody who has a great skill set every day and I don’t have much room to make mistakes. It’s great playing with Elena because she’s such an amazing athlete especially with her natural shooting ability.

"One of my goals is to continually challenge everybody and be a solid teammate. I think that’s important.”

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad


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