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.

Monday, June 05, 2017

WNBA Feature: Hawkins' Support to Mystics Returns Support They Gave to Her


WASHINGTON – Tianna Hawkins remembers the immediate thoughts when she learned she was pregnant.

“It was scary,” a relaxed Hawkins said earlier this week while swiveling in her chair, and smiling at her locker in the Verizon Center. “I didn’t know what was going to happen next. I didn’t know what was going to happen with my job.

“But the biggest thing that I did do was control the things I could: That was working hard to get back into the gym and get back into shape.”

Hawkins is off to a strong start for the Washington Mystics, who improved to 5-2 overall after beating the Atlanta Dream, 78-72, Sunday afternoon.

Her season-best 13-point performance against the Dream was her third double-digit scoring effort in the Mystics’ last four games.

In shooting 50 percent from the field (15-for-30) during the Mystics’ current four-game winning streak, Hawkins is part of Washington’s dynamic bench brigade that features Ivory Latta, Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, and Natasha Cloud.  In a road win at Chicago, she flirted with a double-double (12 points, nine rebounds).

“Our biggest goal is to bring energy,” Hawkins said. “I believe we do a good job of helping the starters when we come into the game. As a group, we just focus and do what’s asked of us. I am so happy to be back. Evidently, everything has fallen into place for me. Thank you God for everything.”

The Mystics are Grand Canyon-deep and brimming with lots of confidence as they prepare for a nationally-televised road game at Dallas on Tuesday (ESPN2, 8 p.m.). Washington has the best record in the Eastern Conference and second-best mark in the WNBA.

Hawkins is balancing being a mother and high-impact performer. She’s excelling in both roles.

Fortunately for the former Maryland star, all she had to do was look across the Mystics locker room for guidance as Tayler Hill was in the same situation after giving birth to her son Maurice in 2014.

“Tayler was the first person I told when I found out (about being pregnant),” Hawkins said. “I actually told her first before I told (Mystic head) coach Mike (Thibault).

“She just told me this is a great time, it’s life changing and to just make the best decision for you and your family. I always remember texting her when my son (Emmanuel) was born and I was like what did you do when A&B happened when you went overseas? She’s been a great help and always gave me good advice when I have needed it.”

The road back has been long and tough. She didn’t play in 2015. Then last season, Hawkins played 24 games before being cut before the post-Olympic break after suffering a concussion. She averaged 4.7 points last season.

At the time of the transaction, multiple reports indicated that Thibault expressed a desire to re-sign Hawkins for this season when she would be completely recovered.

As part of the WNBA's collective bargaining agreement, which was signed in March 2014, players who get pregnant while under contract receive 50 percent of their salary while they're out and have their medical expenses covered by insurance. The CBA expires in October 2021.

The Mystics were supportive of Hawkins and her family, which enabled her to relax and take care of what she needed away from the arena. She did her part by spending extra time in the gym, swimming pool, weight room and gym enhancing her game and getting back into shape.

During the win over the Dream, Hawkins showcased her physicality when she tossed Atlanta’s 5-7 guard Brianna Kiesel to the floor while going for a rebound in the second half. She also displayed plenty on the finesse side moving well without the ball and beating opposing players to loose balls.

Hawkins, who played overseas in South Korea this past offseason, should be nicknamed a “human alarm clock” because in games this week against Connecticut and Atlanta, she supplied an immediate wake-up call as soon as she entered the game. She is a relentless rebounder, a strong and physical presence with a feathery jump shot from about 10 feet.

Most important is that Hawkins is having a blast playing a major role for the Mystics.

“It was a lot just so that I could get back,” Hawkins said. “There were times where I worked out two to three times a day. The feeling is great and I am happy to be here. I have great teammates and a great coaching staff. They make my job easy. Physically it’s not easy. I am happy to be here. I come here everyday with a lot of confidence. I plan to focus in and keep doing what I can do to help our team.”


Blogger CrownJewel said...

Thank is definitely a star, on/off court! No limits to her trajectory.

1:34 PM  

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