Swoopes is one of the true legends of the game. She was also named to the
WNBA All-Decade Team… and for good reason. She is one of the premiere defenders
in the league and last year averaged 15.5 ppg, 2.1 spg and an impressive 5.9
rpg, earning spots on the WNBA All-Second Team and the All-Defensive Team.
Michelle Snow, the Comets' 6-5 center, had arguably the best year of her career in 2006. She dominated the paint, averaging 13 ppg and 7.9 rpg.
NOT COMING BACK
The Comets have said goodbye to point guard Dawn Staley who retired after the 2006 playoffs. Throughout her playing career, she won three Olympic gold medals and was named to the WNBA All-Star Team five times. Awarded the Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award for the second time in 2006, she will share her positive attitude and knowledge of the game with the Temple's women's team where she will continue to reign as head coach.
The Comets also lost starting guard Dominique Canty, who had been with the team since 2003. She signed as a free agent with the Chicago Sky. Though she spent much of the season sidelined due to injury, in her 15 starts, she averaged a career-high 10.9 ppg.
The Comets lost a third guard when they waived 10-year veteran Tamecka Dixon.
As if losing three phenomenal veterans weren't enough, the Comets have also bid farewell to the Comets' one and only coach, Van Chancellor. He had been around since the league's genesis and helped earn the Comets their dynasty status, as the team captured four consecutive WNBA championships from 1997-2000. After 211 wins and 111 losses, Chancellor has bowed out and the team will now look to his protégé, Karleen Thompson, to command the shuttle.
Karleen Thompson has been hired as the new head coach and general manager of the Comets. She was previously Houston's assistant coach for two years under Chancellor. Prior to working with the Comets, she spent eight years with the Sparks organization and was a temporary co-head coach at one point. A former player at USC, she is knowledgeable, enthusiastic and hopes to bring a championship back to Houston.
Dee Davis also hopped aboard the Comets roster on draft day. Selected 14th overall, the 5-7 point guard out of Vanderbilt has an impressive college resume, earning first-team All-SEC honors as a senior. She averaged 5.5 apg and has a reputation for coming up big in the clutch. If she can prove to Thompson that she is up for the challenge, she could compete for a starting spot right off the bat.
Erin Grant was drafted by Seattle in 2006, but never played for the Storm. She could stick around as a backup guard. Also new to the Comets is Latasha Byears, who Houston signed from Washington in the offseason. The nine-year veteran came off the bench in 26 games for the Mystics last year. Australian Jae Kingi-Cross could also step in and grab some playing time. The Comets are the fourth team of the six-year veteran's career, but she's hoping to catch on. Hamchetou Maiga-Ba has also been added to the roster. While she is not likely to start, she will provide Thompson with flexibility as she rebuilds the backcourt.
Finally, in the Charlotte Dispersal Draft, the Comets chose center Yelena Leuchanka. At 6-5, she could add size, strength and depth to the bench, but it's unclear as to whether she'll play in the States this summer.
This will be a very different looking Comets team. Their success will depend largely on how quickly the rookies can adjust to their roles. That, of course, will depend largely on how Karleen Thompson chooses to integrate them into the game plan. Despite their three stars, this will most likely be a rebuilding year for the Comets, as the youngsters could easily take some time to get accustomed to the level and style of play. A playoff run might be a stretch this year, but with strong veteran play and top newcomers, fans can expect a return to greatness in the years to come.