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.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

WNBA: Newly Minted Pro Natasha Cloud Breaks Long Big 5 Drought

By Mel Greenberg

When it becomes official Thursday as the Washington Mystics roll out Friday's opening day roster, Saint Joseph's graduate Natasha Cloud, the Broomall native out of Cardinal O'Hara, will be the first rookie and overall player from a Big 5 school to survive training camp in eight seasons.

The last one was Temple star Kamesha Hairston, a first round pick who played one season for the Connecticut Sun and appeared in 17 games in 2007.

A year earlier another Temple pick -- Candice Dupree -- went overall sixth in the first round to the expansion Chicago Sky and has since gone on to All-Star stature and was a key player last summer in the Phoenix Mercury's drive to their third WNBA title.

Cloud went in the second round and overall 15th in April's draft but coach Mike Thibault, who was then coaching the Sun when he took Hairston, indicated he could have easily picked her earlier had not the opportunity existed to use the eighth overall pick in the first round to grab Dayton's Ally Mallot, who competed against Cloud in the Atlantic 10 wars.

The last Hawk to make a roster was current associate head coach Sue Moran in 2001 with the New York Liberty though she never got into a game.

Eastern Illinois coach Debbie Black in 1999 was the last reknown Saint Joseph's player in the WNBA but she had already established all star status in the defunct American Basketball League.

Ironically Thibault was involved again when the WNBA Miami Sol dispersed and he took Black to join him in Connecticut when in 2003 the franchise was acquired from the former Orlando Miracle.

Cloud, who played well in the Mystics' preseason games, will make her debut Friday night in Connecticut and then make her Washington debut Saturday night when New York visits at the Verizon Center which is expected to have a bunch of her former teammates in the house.

The most recent area stars to establish success in the WNBA is Delaware grad Elena Delle Donne with the Chicago Sky and the Penn State duo of Alex Bentley and Narberth's Maggie Lucas

Rutgers grads Cappie Pondexter, Kia Vaughn, Erica Wheeler, Essence Carson, and Epiphanny Prince play in the league as does another former Penn State star in Tanisha Wright.

Players from the area hopeful of surviving Thursday's cuts are Brittany Hrynko, the Big East player of the year out of DePaul, who is in San Antonio's camp; Rutgers grad Betnijah Laney in Chicago, and Ivy player of the year Blake Dietrick out of Princeton, who is in Los Angeles.

The only Ivy player to make a roster was all-time great Allison Feaster, the Harvard grad who played from 1998 to 2008.




- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad


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