Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Friday, July 24, 2009

WNBA media day in the book

It was a rather interesting day at Mohegan Sun Arena.

The No. 1 image I'll take from the day was the mass of media surrounding former UConn star Diana Taurasi. Taurasi was arrested on July on suspicion of drunk driving and two driving infractions. Whether it was Friday or on Sunday when the Phoenix Mercury played at New York, Taurasi was going to be the focus of attention because of the legal bind she finds herself in. It happened on Friday. It was a scene right out of Super Bowl media day. I didn't speak to Diana since the Register's columnist Dave Solomon was handling the story but when I looked over, I saw the media three or four deep around Taurasi.

After one of the first questions about the DUI charge, one staff member asked with and I am paraphrasing "can we keep the questions to basketball related topics." Yeah, right. True to her nature, Diana answered all the questions. She wasn't happy with some of them but also made no attempt to bolt, not that she could have made it more than half a step considering all the media surrounding her.

I focused my attention on speaking to former UConn stars Swin Cash and Sue Bird for my story focusing on Bird, Asjha Jones (who I interview on Wednesday) and Cash who were teammates for four years at UConn. The stuff from Swin about how she dealt with the persistent back pain which threatened to sidetrack her career was pretty compelling stuff. Not sure when I'll be able to write all that stuff but trust me, it will be written.

I also spoke with Charde Houston as well as another former UConn star. Rebecca Lobo is a strong candidate to be including in the latest class which will be inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in June in Knoxville, Tennessee. Naturally, Lobo was not about to spill the beans but I would be shocked if she wasn't one of the three players on the list that will be announced tomorrow at halftime of the all-star game.

"It would obviously mean a lot to me, it would be great," Lobo said. It doesn't seem like I have been out of the game to even be considered for something like that (she retired in 2003, playing her final season in the WNBA with the Connecticut Sun) but I would be thrilled. I wasn't even aware I was even eligible so if it were to happen, I would be surprised, awed and really thrilled."

I also asked Lobo about having five UConn players in tomorrow's game and to compare the difference between UConn fans and Connecticut Sun fans.

"It's so great that you have five UConn people playing in this arena, one of them currently representing the Connecticut Sun because it is such a great program," Lobo said. "Coach Auriemma does such a great job with his players and his teams. It is not a surprise but especially when you look at that 2002 group, that team including Diana too, it is pretty amazing."

"They are both pretty passionate," Lobo said of the different fan bases. "I think people are surprised when I tell them it is two different fan groups. it is not UConn fans coming to the Connecticut Sun games, it is the Connecticut Sun fans."

My first interview of the day was Chicago center Sylvia Fowles. There was a half-court shooting competition with the winner earning $100. Former Connecticut Sun center Erika de Souza delighted the fans in attendance by hitting two half-court heaves but those were during warmups. Each of the 11 Eastern Conference players had three shots at it. It appeared as if nobody would connect when Fowles was dead, solid perfect on her final attempt.

"I don't wish to discuss the money. No, it was $100," Fowles said with a laugh when I asked her what her reward was for hitting the shot. "I am paying my teammates off, they pumped me up and helped me do it. A lot of pressure. I guess it was a good thing being the youngest on the team (the players went in order of age, oldest (Katie Smith) to youngest (Fowles)."

The doors will open tomorrow at 1:30 with the 3-point shooting and skills competitions being held from 2-3 p.m. before the game starts at 3:30 p.m.

The seven all-stars who were members of the gold-medal winning U.S. Olympic team (Bird, Taurasi, Fowles, Katie Smith, Tina Thompson, Tamika Catchings and Cappie Pondexter) as well as Connecticut Sun head coach Mike Thibault, one of Anne Donovan's Olympic assistant, will be honored at halftime for the run to the gold medal.

Got it confirmed from both Cash and Bird that UConn coach Geno Auriemma and their former teammate Tamika (Williams) Raymond will be among those in attendance at tomorrow's all-star game.

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