Auction winner takes 2-of-3 from Shock rookie

Latta Horses Around With Fan

Even though her challenger was a 27-year-old who didn’t even play high school ball, Ivory Latta enlisted some help before playing a round of “HORSE” following Saturday’s practice at The Palace.

“I came out here and ran a couple of plays, extra plays with Coach Bill (Laimbeer) and tried to get warmed up and I was definitely ready for it,” Latta said. “I think I over-prepared myself for it.”

To the amusement of the Shock coaching staff and a few of Latta’s teammates, the rookie guard could muster only one victory in three games over Aaron Dubester, who earned the one-on-one showdown with the highest bid in an online auction at detroitshock.com.

Sitting on the scorer’s table, head coach Bill Laimbeer and assistant coaches Rick Mahorn and Cheryl Reeve had fun with Latta and helped Dubester whenever possible. “Bill tried to help him. Rick really did want him to beat me, so he was telling him things. They were trying to get me to take shots they knew I couldn’t hit so he could get the ball back,” Latta said. “I listened to Rick and Bill, so I lost.”

Dubester wasn’t immune from Laimbeer’s cutting wit, especially during the first game when his nerves got the best of him. “I was on a pretty bad cold streak at first and Bill was like, ‘We’ve got a whole lot of bricklaying going on here,’” Dubester said. “That first game was really ugly. I was already up to ‘S’ before she got an ‘H.’”

When Dubester relaxed, he went on to win a pair of shorter bonus games, “CAT” and “AT,” with a little assistance from Mahorn, who pointed out Latta’s cold spot. “Just inside the college 3-point line on the left side, which apparently is her weakness,” Dubester said, who banked in his “AT” victory from there. “I forgot to read her scouting report.”

Latta didn’t know much about Dubester, either. “I didn’t know what my competition was, and I came in with a strong mind, but he finished the game with a backboard shot,” she said. “I’m not real fond of backboard shots.”

Yet Dubester is quite fond of Latta. The Oshkosh, Wis., native grew up where the women’s basketball teams were more successful than the men’s, and continued to follow the women’s game at Kansas State, where he just graduated this spring with a degree in social sciences.

It was in 2005 that Latta, the 2005-06 national player of the year, found a fan in Dubester, who admired her fiery, energetic play for the North Carolina Tar Heels. But it was a more relaxed side of Latta that Dubester met on Saturday. “It was pretty cool. She came off as normal person, no ego, trying to help me out a little bit, just ‘take your time,’ that sort of advice,” he said.

Latta made it well worth Dubester’s winning bid of $450 and the eight-and-a-half hour drive from Oshkosh. “I just wanted to meet her, and this was the chance,” Dubester said, who said he has the NBA.com auctions site bookmarked for just these types of opportunities. “I was like, ‘I’m not missing this.’”

And once he got to The Palace, he didn’t miss much else. Latta can attest to that. “I was definitely looking forward to it. I’m just a little down right now,” Latta said, tongue in cheek. “But that’s all right.”