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, May 24, 2018

WNBA Report: Elena Delle Donne’s Off-Court Activities Has Helped to Expand Her Own Vistas As Well as Washington’s

By ROB KNOX (@knoxrob1)


WASHINGTON – Entering her second year with the Washington Mystics, Elena Delle Donne, a 6 foot, 5 inch modern marvel and transcendent talent is in a terrific place mentally and physically.


After helping the Mystics qualify for the playoffs for the first time in 15 years and advance to the WNBA semifinals, the 28-year-old Delle Donne enjoyed a busy, but rewarding, offseason in which she stayed in Washington working out, wrote two recently published books and married her best friend, Amanda Clifton in November.


“It’s always nice to have a family to keep things in perspective,” Delle Donne said. “It doesn’t matter. Good day, bad day, good game, bad game, I get to come home to my wife and know what’s most important in this world. It’s great having her by my side. Anything I go through, I know I am O.K. because I have my best friend with me.”


Delle Donne is grounded and excited to help the Mystics enjoy more success this season. 

Washington (2-0 overall) looks to extend its early season winning streak when it visits Indiana (0-3) Thursday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Mystics opened the season with a hard-earned 82-75 win over the Fever on Sunday. 


This will be Washington’s first road game of the season. The Mystics begin a stretch of playing four of their next five games on the road in eight days.


Earlier this week before a game against Las Vegas, Delle Donne was smiling, sitting on the bench, and cradling the ball while watching her teammates go through final pregame shooting preparations at Capital One Arena.


A few minutes later, Delle Donne had the court to herself, going through an intense 20-minute pregame shooting regimen, which included jumpers from all over the floor and lots of foul shots. As she exited the floor and returned to the locker room, Delle Donne was soaked with sweat.


Away from her sanctuary of the basketball court, Delle Donne is comfortable with her role not only for the Mystics, but as one of the many strong voices of the WNBA. The Delaware legend understands she has a large platform to bring awareness to any issue she chooses, which is something she values. 


She is also a supporter of many of the WNBA’s initiatives that support society. This season, the WNBA launched “Take A Seat, Take A Stand,” its new women and girls empowerment program. For each ticket purchased, the WNBA donates $5 to one of six organizations of the fans’ choosing in addition to a ticket to send a young woman or girl to a game to inspire her by the strength, talent and leadership of the women of the WNBA.


“I love that this league is the leader of equality movements,” Delle Donne said. “The whole take a seat, take a stand program, I love it. The fact we get to come out and play the game of basketball and give back our community is really special. It’s been fun to be a part of this league. It’s an even bigger family and everybody supports one another. We use our voices and we have each other’s backs.” 


Though it’s just two games into the 2018 season, this year is already different for Delle Donne, who had 23 points and 11 rebounds in the Mystics 75-70 win over the Aces Tuesday night. She didn’t play overseas and stayed in Washington training and working out with several of her teammates, which enhanced the Mystics chemistry.


“It’s been amazing,” Delle Donne said. “I love it here. My family is here. It’s been a lot of fun this preseason and I feel like it’s so much different than last season coming in being a brand new team. This year we all know each other and we all have that chemistry and we’ve been able to build on it.”


Being able to practice with several of her teammates during offseason workouts was crucial in building the foundation of this year’s squad. Without Emma Messesseman this season, Delle Donne can slide into her more natural forward position where she’s a nightmare for anybody trying to defend her. 


Delle Donne focused on making different reads, learning her teammates’ sweet spots on the floor so she can get passes there, but more importantly, they were building trust with each other. 

Late in the game against the Aces, Delle Donne enjoyed a brilliant late-game sequence that was crucial to the victory. Protecting a three-point lead, she blocked No. 1 draft pick A’ja Wilson’s shot on one end and finished the game by drilling a tough jumper despite Wilson’s strong defense.


Washington head coach Mike Thibault is excited to have the four-time all-star and 2015 WNBA MVP for another year. He admitted it was a learning experience for him and the staff last season in using her effectively. This season, he’s already noticed a difference. 


“She knows that her voice is welcomed and listened to,” Thibault said. “She’s in a place where she can exert some leadership. She’s grown up a lot in that area in how to engage teammates on the basketball court. She’s comfortable with what we are doing. 


“I know more as a coach how to use her and get her in the flow. There were games last year in which her teammates shut her out. Not on purpose, but she would go four or five minutes without touches. When you have a player that talented, they have to get a certain number of shot attempts a game to keep a rhythm. Our coaching staff is better with that. I believe she can have a more productive year in a lot of ways in scoring, rebounding and assists.”


A scary thought for opponents once Delle Donne finds her groove.




Fowles Dominates

With 23 points, 20 rebounds and five steals in a 76-68 win against Dallas Wednesday night, Sylvia Fowles became the first player in WNBA history to record 20+ points, 20+ rebounds and 5+ steals. 

She also became the first player in Lynx history (regular season) to record a 20+ point, 20+ rebound game (third career), marking just the 18th time in WNBA history achieving that feat. It was Fowles’129th double-double of her career and second-consecutive of the season.


“Goodness gracious that was hard, but it felt good,” Fowles said of her performance. “I felt good. I felt like my teammates got me the ball a lot. They put me in really good spots to finish and from there I went. 

“It definitely felt different, but after we watched the game on Sunday I think I was more rushing than anything. I wasn’t being composed and being my normal self, I was letting them pretty much beat me up and that’s something that we harped on the last couple of days of practice just making sure I’m in my comfort zone and taking my time.”


Vegas Welcomes Back A Pair of Aces

The Aces welcomed guards Kayla McBride and Kelsey Plum to the team, two days after the pair concluded their Turkish League Finals series. Plum’s Fenerbahce squad bested McBride’s Yakin Dogu team three-games-to-one to take home the championship. 

The two were immediately removed from the Aces’ Temporarily Suspended List, and moved to the active roster. To make room for them, Las Vegas waived guards Shoni Schimmel, the former Louisville star who had just been picked up after being let go by New York, and Raigyne Louis.

McBride and Plum are expected to bolster the Aces’ perimeter game as Las Vegas is just two for 16 from three point range over the team’s first two games of the season. 

McBride has paced the Aces in scoring average in each of her four seasons in the league, and is a career 34.9 percent shooter from long distance. Plum made 36.5 percent of her shots from beyond the arc in her rookie season a year ago.

The Aces play their home opener Sunday against Seattle at 8:30 p.m. on NBA-TV. 



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