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, July 19, 2018

WNBA Feature: Diggins-Smith and Cambage Becoming Quite the Combo in Dallas

By ROB KNOX (@knoxrob1)


Skylar Diggins-Smith has enjoyed a front-row seat to the only two games in WNBA history in which a player has scored 50 or more points. 


A pretty unique feat for somebody who has seemingly experienced everything.


“I have been blessed to be on the floor and witness the top two scoring performances we have had in the league,” said Diggins-Smith on Wednesday’s national media conference call in advance of Thursday night’s game against the Washington Mystics on ESPN2. 

“One was with Riquna Williams, when she scored 51 down in San Antonio. Seeing how she did that was great. And now (Tuesday’s) 53 with Liz (Cambage against the New York Liberty). It was such a steady performance for her, and she is so dominant each game, so the domination didn’t surprise me.”


Diggins-Smith is shining brighter than ever in her sixth season. 

The soon-to-be 28-year old stick of dynamite is continuing to deliver eloquent performances. After getting a taste of the playoffs last year and losing to the Mystics in a first round game, Diggins-Smith is stronger than ever, having fun and using her voice to make a difference.


She’s currently ninth in the WNBA in scoring (19.0 points per game) and third in assists per outing (6.3).

 Selected as a WNBA All-Star for the fourth time, Diggins-Smith has enjoyed some special performances this season like the 32 points she scored against the Liberty on July 8 and the 11 assists she had against the Los Angeles Sparks in a key victory on July 12.


While Liz Cambage has been all the rage and one of the favorites for the league’s MVP award, Diggins-Smith is the heart and soul of a Dallas squad that is 13-9 overall. That is the same record as Atlanta and Washington. The Sparks are 14-9 and the defending champion Minnesota Lynx are lurking at 13-10


That means seven teams with Phoenix at 15-8 and in second place and the Connecticut Sun at 12-11 in eighth place are within three games of earning the coveted No. 2 seed and the double bye into the best-of-three semifinals. It’s crazy chaos that’s riveting and exciting. 


For one memorable afternoon, Diggins-Smith, like everybody else was in awe of Cambage’s scoring show. She did everything except take a selfie during the game. It was a transcendent performance that had everybody from coast-to-coast talking.


A swirling mass of menace and muscle that attacked the Liberty with merciless fury, Cambage made 17-of-22 shots, including 4-of-5 from behind the arc. For good measure, Cambage complimented her effort with 10 rebounds, five blocks and no turnovers. 


It was a brilliant performance that mere adjectives like amazing, awesome, and astonishing don’t do justice to describe the damage she inflicted on New York.


“Her dominance in this game is something special,” Diggins-Smith said. “To me she is the most dominant player in the league, and is one of the easiest players to play with. 

“She is literally a chick-magnet in the paint in how she attracts 2 and 3 defenders at all times, with them knowing where the ball is going and still not being able to stop her.”

Cambage has played with the Australia National Team, believed to be the first woman to dunk in the Olympics after a shot she threw down against the Russians in London in 2012 on the bronze medalists, though FIBA couldn’t provide official confirmation since dunk stats are not kept.

The Aussies were ousted in the quarterfinals in 2016 in Brazil but Cambage was tops in overall points at 141. 


Together, Cambage and Diggins-Smith are one of the most potent combinations in the league. 

During the call, Cambage returned the love to her teammate. Diggins-Smith was a teammate of Cambage’s in Tulsa during her rookie year of 2013.

 “She’s such a great leader and the best point guard in the league,” Cambage said of the former Notre Dame standout. “She’s one of the hardest working athletes I’ve ever been on the team with. She’s first in the gym. To see how far she’s come since that first season we played together has been amazing. Her leadership, passion and emotion inspires me. We are both hungry and I love playing with Sky.”


While Diggins-Smith shared plenty of laughs during the conference call, her voice hardened when she spoke about the league and the trials that some of the players have to endure.


“We do everything except clean up the gym,” Diggins-Smith said. “It’s frustrating to see (NBA players at the end of the bench) make seven figure deals. We work our (butts) off at the end of the day. It comes with the territory. The pioneers worked and they fought hard for us to have a league. 


“A lot of women are prepared to speak when others don’t speak. It’s great to have the support of other women and those who are basketball fans. Just like the pioneers before, we go out every day and try to sustain this league for our daughters and give them something proud to represent.” 

Later Thursday, Diggins-Smith was named winner of the WNBA Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award.

Here is the front part of the league announcement.

Dallas Wings guard Skylar Diggins-Smith has earned the Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award for her extraordinary work in the community in 2017 and the most recent offseason, the WNBA announced today.


The award, which is named in honor of WNBA legend and Hall of Famer Dawn Staley, recognizes a player who reflects Staley’s spirit, leadership, charitable efforts, love for the game and inspirational presence in the community.


“Skylar understands the importance of empowering youth to reach their full potential,” said WNBA President Lisa Borders.  “A deep commitment to the community helps make her an exceptional ambassador for our game.” 


Diggins-Smith, a three-time WNBA All-Star selection, is being honored for her support of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and her positive impact on youth basketball.


In May 2017, Diggins-Smith was inducted into the Boys & Girls Clubs of America Alumni Hall of Fame.  During the ceremony, she recalled how her experience at a Boys & Girls Club in South Bend, Ind., helped her gain an appreciation for community service.


Diggins-Smith has worked extensively with a Boys & Girls Club in Dallas.  Diggins-Smith served as a coach in a basketball game between the children and staff, and she also hosted a  surprise private screening of Black Panther for a group of kids. 




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