Countdown to 2004 WNBA Draft -- March 24

The Phoenix Mercury will be conducting a player watch to keep fans updated on the top collegiate players who will available for the 2004 WNBA Draft. Highlighted this week are insights on Diana Taurasi and Alana Beard by some of the WNBA's top analysts.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Diana Taurasi

“Taurasi will be the first player taken in the deepest WNBA draft ever. That will put her in Phoenix. For the first time since she arrived in the Nutmeg State four years ago, she will have to win an audience. A male audience.”
Eric Adelson, March 19, 2004

“Taurasi is different. She is charismatic without being adorable. She is not image conscious. She is not afraid to speak her mind … and she is not afraid to take the odd controversial position. Put simply, Taurasi is not just another one of Geno’s Girls. She has the type of bravado that draws male audiences to barrier-breakers like Annika Sorenstam and Serena Williams. And for that reason, she is marketable.”
Eric Adelson, March 19, 2004

“Diana Taurasi is, because of her game and her personality, the most dramatic female basketball player in history. That flair has made her the best ever, and now it has made her the last best hope for the WNBA.”
Eric Adelson, March 19, 2004

“Like Sheryl Swoopes, Cheryl Miller and Chamique Holdsclaw before her, Taurasi is one of the best players to ever appear in the women’s NCAA Tournament.”
Nancy Lieberman, ESPN basketball analyst

“What I find is that I’m drawn to Diana. Not only to her ability but also to the feeling she exudes that she loves the game. What I also like is that she’s got a swagger to her walk and she can back it up.”
Renee Brown, WNBA Director of Player Personnel

“Every GM in the Draft would take her with the first pick.”
Rebecca Lobo, Retired WNBA All-Star, March 17, 2004

“Last March (2003), after she scored thirty-five points against the Texas Christian Lady Frogs in the NCAA tournament, Uconn’s head coach, Geno Auriemma, explained what set the Huskies apart: ‘We got Diana. And you don’t’.”
Kevin Conley, The New Yorker March 8, 2004

“Diana Taurasi – I haven’t seen a player with as much attitude as her in a long, long time. And if she brings that into the WNBA, I’m sure there are some veteran players who aren’t going to like that. But you know what? That’s what the league needs.”
Stacey Dales-Schuman, ESPN basketball analyst and Washington Mystics guard

“Diana Taurasi can be the WNBA’s Larry Bird. Or its Magic Johnson. Depends on who’s talking. She is seen as the star the Phoenix Mercury so desperately needs, on who would provide the WNBA with its own LeBron James, a drawing card around the country for a league looking for a Q-rating boost.”
Diane Pucin, Los Angeles Times March 20, 2004

“What continues to jump out at you is Diana’s basketball intelligence, her feel for the game, her understanding of the game. It’s off the charts. What you sell with Diana is the basketball, just the basketball. I believe all basketball fans, men or women, will enjoy watching Diana play.”
Seth Sulka, Phoenix Mercury General Manager

“The thing that separates Diana from other great players and puts her in the same category as Cheryl (Miller) as best of all time is the aura they have around them. Diana’s charisma is important to who she is on the floor, and that’s going to be a great thing for the WNBA. The skills Diana has, the way she carries herself is absolutely what the WNBA is missing. Look what Magic Johnson did. He led with charisma. The WNBA needs that kind of charisma as much as it needs anything.”
Nell Fortner, ESPN basketball analyst

“Diana makes players better. People say she can’t play defense, she’s not quick enough laterally, but then she leads UConn in blocked shots and is high up in steals and you can’t even account for all the steals she helps her teammates get. She wants the ball at the end of games like Jerry West did, Michael Jordan did, Bird did. Every night’s a show for her. You have to ride her.”
Anne Meyers Drysdale, WNBA analyst

“Diana Taurasi, Alana Beard – their names already have carried the women’s game far beyond where people could have imagined it going. They’re going to bring in some athleticism and toughness.”
Stacey Dales-Schuman, ESPN basketball analyst and Washington Mystics guard

Alana Beard

“In what seems like four short years, Alana Beard has rewritten the Duke record book. She holds a spot in nearly every statistical category. She holds the record for most points scored in a single game. She is Duke’s all-time leading scorer, a record she broke this year, and she is well on her way to becoming the leader in points scored in both Duke men’s and women’s history. When Beard reaches 2,500 points and 400 steals, she will be the first player in men’s or women’s NCAA history to accomplish those type of numbers.”
Lisa Jones,

“Alana has taken her game to another level this year, which I didn’t know existed. The great thing is Alana has taken the team along with her, and she has let each of her teammates know how important they are for this team to reach their ultimate goal of a national championship.”
Gail Goestenkors, Duke Head Coach

“She’s one of the toughest players, physically and mentally, we have.”
Gail Goestenkors, Duke Head Coach

“Beard is putting up Player of the Year numbers (20 points, 5 rebounds per game) and is a terrific defender. She has added a decent jump shot to go with her stellar driving game. This shy Blue Devil has a strong, solid physique and will start right away for the team that takes her.”
Rebecca Lobo,, Retired WNBA All-Star, March 17, 2004