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.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Guru WNBA Report: Wide Awake In Seattle For Smith-Agler Reunion II

(Guru's note: If you got here via the melgreenberg.com route, there is another post below this one in blogspot giving details of playing in the Philly summer league. Just click mel's blog on the left and keep scrolling.)

By Mel Greenberg

While the NFL was back in lockout mode Friday, Katie Smith was finally locked into getting her wish to become a member of the WNBA reigning champion Seattle Storm.

A mega-trade went down Friday and when the smoke cleared Brian Agler, coach of Storm and superstar Smith were reunited once more at the back end of the former Ohio State all-American’s career.

Smith joined the Washington Mystics last season as a free agent after having played on WNBA champions with the former Detroit Shock.

Before that, she and Agler held Reunion I starting the Minnesota Lynx after the two had combined with such former collegiate stars as Shannon “Pee Wee” Johnson, Val Still, Andrea Lloyd Curry, Nikki McCray and Tonya Edwards to produce two championship off the Columbus Quest in Ohio in the only two full seasons of the former American Basketball League’s existence.

The ABL died under bankruptcy early in its third season in the winter of 1998.

Smith, who became the U.S. women’s pro player to reach 5,000 and 6,000 points off her combined WNBA/ABL participation was able to move to the Storm off a three-way trade involving the Mystics and Indiana Fever.

Agler, of course, caught up with Smith last fall when Seattle beat the Atlanta Dream to make him the first and only coach to win ABL and WNBA titles while Smith gained the achievement as a player when Detroit beat Sacramento.

In terms of the overall deal, Smith and Jacinta Monroe, a second-year pro out of Florida State, move from the Mystics to Seattle in exchange for recently drafted Duke star – one goes in Lindsay Harding and another replacement comes along – and Seattle’s 2012 first-round draft.

Seattle also picks up Indiana’s second-round draft slot in 2012.

Indiana picks up Erin Phillips, the Aussie guard who starred with the Connecticut Sun, got injured Down Under, landed in Seattle and now heads to the Fever along with Seattle’s third-round 2012 draft pick.

The Mystics also get the Indiana-owned third-round pick of the 2012 draft.

Thomas, the 12th overall and final first-round pick earlier this month, joins former Duke stars Alana Beard, who missed last season recovering from an injury, and Monique Currie, who will miss this one doing likewise.

The Mystics have had almost as many Dukes, ok Dookies, as attended the Royal Wedding Friday of Prince William and Kate Middleton in London.

Smith has other reunions also in the Storm family. Assistant coach Nancy Darsch was her Ohio State coach as the Buckeyes won several Big Ten titles and advanced to the Women’s Final Four in 1993 when future OSU coach Jim Foster was in the group guiding Vanderbilt and someone named Sheryl Swoopes helped Texas Tech win the whole deal.

Former UConn star Swin Cash was a Detroit Shock teammate of Smith’s when the championship over Sacramento was won.
Furthermore, Cash, Smith and former UConn star Sue Bird were Olympic gold-medal winning teammates.

Upon Further Review

Although many of us jumped on the WNBA off the way it initially handled the announcement of Laurel J. Ritchie as the league’s third president, the Guru has learned the league had to be a bit hasty ahead of its own plans in making Richie’s hire known and having her available for a teleconference with the media.
The Girls Scouts of America, of which Richie had been an executive and marketing officer, were getting ready to announce her departure ahead of the WNBA announcing the hire.

Also, some criticized the league for not announcing the hire at the Women’s Final Four in Indianapolis at the beginning of this month, but as the Guru assumed, Richie had yet to be formally finalized as the new WNBA leader.

Furthermore, considering the so-called amateur status in the NCAA world and the pro status of the WNBA, it is a very delicate dance the organizations do with each other to on one hand help each other’s causes but on the other still try to maintain some
separation of salaried athletes and those whose collegiate living is earned through scholarships.

Jayda Evans, our colleague and dinner companion when she’s on the three-city Eastern swing of Mohegan Sun (Uncasville/New London, Ct.), New York (Newark the next three summers) and Washington, has quotes and all in her story in the Seattle Times.

Seattle is a happening city in the WNBA. It was there in February that Richie was giving a keynote address and Storm ownership was at the same event to receive an award. Chit-chat ensued and soon thereafter Richie was on the receiving end of a "Uncle David (Stern) may want you" type of phone call and the hiring process evolved from there.

Another Staley Homecoming

Despite describing the lay of the land in the previous item, sometimes in a slow period the Guru finds it necessary to blend WNBA and NCAA items together, though technically this may not be a violation at all considering who is being mentioned.

That’s right. Former ABL and WNBA All-Star Dawn Staley will make another Philadelphia homecoming appearance next season when the South Carolina coach brings the Gamecocks to West Philadelphia to play at Drexel on the front part of a two-season home-and-home deal.

Staley, who had left Temple for South Carolina and the Southeastern Conference, made a previous return two years ago to St. Joseph’s tournament but the Gamecocks lost to Boston U. in the first round of the Hawk Classic before finishing third.

The Terriers had their own homecoming special in former La Salle star and former Penn coach Kelly Greenberg.

Drexel has been a favored stop for Staley over the years, especially when in town in the winter because of her longtime friendship with Dragons men's coach Bruiser Flint and his wife Renee.



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