April 5, 2004 - It's Draft time again. I can just picture all the
coaches and GMs sitting in their "war rooms" (are we allowed to call them war
rooms these days?), with greaseboard marker in one hand and eraser in the other.
Just for my own enjoyment I also imagine Carol Blazejowski or Anne Donovan or
Penny Toler leaning back in her Barcalounger and lighting up a cigar after Janel
McCarville inexplicably drops to the 10th, 12th or 26th pick, respectively.
Draft is a few short days away, so lets tip our headbands to the women who will
make this year's' first round an excitement-filled hour on ESPN.
have been listed alphabetically to protect the innocent... or until I talk to
more GMs and get a better feel for who they might draft.)
Batteast (Notre Dame)
Batteast made me a believer last year when she
helped ND beat a Taurasi-led Uconn team in South Bend. She was able to score off
the dribble, in traffic, and when double- or triple-teamed. She made every big
shot when the Irish needed one. While Batteast hasn't always been consistent,
she has shown that she's got the goods.
Battle probably won't be a first-round pick but I'm
listing her here just because I like her. She's an incredibly hard worker, ridiculously
strong and athletic, and will do anything that a coach asks of her. And when my
daughter was born three months ago, AB gave her a Care Bear stuffed animal. That's
enought to get her on my draft board.
Teams like size and Blackmon has size. She's also
played well in the NCAA tournament for one of the best young coaches in college
basketball. She's learned the game and knows how to win.
Ely can score off the dribble and hits the offensive
glass like crazy. While much was made during the NCAA tournament of the Lady Vols'
improved play when Ely was moved from the 3 spot back to the 4, the question remains
-- where will she play in the WNBA? She's a bit of a tweener but she played for
one of the best coaches in the college game, so knowing how to work hard and possessing
an understanding of how to play are givens.
Feenstra opened up a lot of people's eyes during
the NCAA tournament. She's intriguing because of her size (6-8, 240 lbs) but the
question remains: Is there still a spot for the big bigs in a league that is becoming
less half-court oriented and more run and gun? If so, Feenstra is the player to
Haynie quietly led the Spartans all season long. Her triple-double
versus Stanford in the NCAA regional final got some folks talking. Word around
town is that her stock is rising. (Not that that helps since we don't know where
her stock started or which town she'll end up playing in.) Get Haynie in the right
situation, however, and she could be a solid point in the league.
Irvin is super athletic and can have an immediate impact
as a defender and rebounder. Her offensive game has improved since her freshman
year and she can shoot the three and put the ball on the floor. She played with
a young backcourt this past season at TCU and there were times I wished she would
have grabbed the young 'uns by the jersey and demanded touches when they got shot-happy.
Irvin is a really nice kid and will be a phenomenal player once she gets a little
more vocal like her uncle Michael.
Quick and gutsy point guard. Johnson can score in transition
and runs a team well. She also knows how to play with a superstar... having spent
3 years with Seimone Augustus.
I'd draft anyone with two vowels dancing side by
side in her last name. Plus, she's got size (6-4) and can shoot the 3.
My second favorite name in the draft next to Tan White
(see below). Lyttle is still a bit raw offensively but has tremendous upside because
she's a great athlete with terrific size. (Lyttle's not little.) She's quick enough
to defend and run with the bigs in the WNBA.
My favorite player in the Draft. McCarville
has phenomenal hands and is the best passing post player I've ever seen. She makes
the game fun to watch and will make it enjoyable for her teammates. Couple that
with her ability to score and take over when needed and you've got a sure thing.
Plus, she's tough. She's going to leave a few of the vets with black and blue
marks this coming season.
Moore's stock fell a little at the beginning of the season
because she was still recovering from the ACL tear she suffered in the 2004 National
Championship game. However, she came on strong halfway through the season after
regaining her confidence in the knee. Moore learned from the best coach in women's
basketball while at UConn and will succeed in the pros. Geno Auriemma's players
understand the game and the importance of winning. Combine that with Moore's athletic
ability and you've got a winner.
Wecker (Kansas State)
Wecker's game has been compared to Katie Smith's.
She is a deceptively great athlete, strong, and can score off the dribble. She
could follow in fellow-Wildcat Nicole Ohlde's footsteps and get drafted in the
Tan White (Mississippi
Do you have to get the 32 or 64 Crayola box to find the best name
in the draft? White is the most talented player that most casual hoops fans have
never seen play. She can handle, score, playmake and rebound. She'll be one of
the first few to hear her name on draft day.
Wright (Penn State)
Wright is a great defender and has the ability
to drive and post up smaller guards. I hope she goes fairly high in the draft
so we don't have another heartbreaking Nittany Lion episode like we saw last year
with Kelly Mazzante. I don't think that will be the case.