Veteran Comets feel right at home

Teammates Thompson, Swoopes make good on 'fourpeat' prediction

WNBA All-Star Game Notebook

July 16, 2002|By Travis Haney | Travis Haney,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON - The nation's capital felt a lot like the heart of Texas last night for a pair of Houston Comets.

Veterans Tina Thompson and Sheryl Swoopes are major reasons, if not the only reasons, the Comets won the first four WNBA championships (1997-2000). They were also key in the Western Conference's fourth straight All-Star win last night at MCI Center.

Thompson hit two free throws with 51 seconds to play to put the West ahead 77-76. Swoopes followed with two free throws.

"It felt like being at home with the Comets," said Thompson, who had a game-high 20 points and added seven rebounds. "I think our veteran leadership took over late in the game, with me, Sheryl and Lisa [Leslie, Los Angeles Sparks center and game Most Valuable Player] out there."

Before the game, Swoopes guaranteed the West's All-Star "fourpeat." The game's leading vote-getter had a direct hand in ensuring her bold prognostication held up.

"I didn't feel any pressure really. I am glad we came out with a win," Swoopes said.

Thompson and Swoopes came into Washington on a high, with the Comets (16-4) having won nine of their past 10 games.

Swoopes said she and Thompson didn't talk too much this past weekend, but they innately related to one another during the game.

"Once we step on the floor, we just kind of have that vibe for each other," Swoopes said. "I think we were both really excited to be back here playing in this game, and we're definitely excited about the way our team is playing right now."

Case for All-Stardom

Washington Mystics rookie forward Stacey Dales-Schuman is a WNBA All-Star, but an argument can be made that perhaps she should have been one all along and not just as a replacement for teammate Chamique Holdsclaw.

Holdsclaw sat out because of an ankle injury that has side-lined her for nearly a month.

Dales-Schuman is averaging 12 points for the Mystics, who are considered the league's biggest turnaround. After going 10-22 last season, Washington is 14-6 and leads the Eastern Conference by 2 1/2 games.

The second-place Charlotte Sting (11-8) had the most All-Star representatives, with three. Guard Dawn Staley was voted a starter. Guard Andrea Stinson and center Tammy Sutton-Brown were selected as reserves by East coach Anne Donovan, also the Sting's coach.

While Stinson and Sutton-Brown have slightly better scoring statistics - 13.4 and 12.9 points a game, respectively - than Dales-Schuman, many thought the Mystics might have more All-Stars because they were hosts of this year's game.

Said Dales-Schuman: "I don't know if I get into too much about who's chosen and how it's decided. I'm ultimately focused on the Mystics and how we're doing and how we play together. Stuff like this is just icing on the cake."

Almost old times

Holdsclaw's ankle prevented an on-court reunion with former University of Tennessee teammate Tamika Catchings, of the Indiana Fever, from taking place.

Catchings said that didn't mean the two couldn't chat and reminisce about the 1998 NCAA championship they helped the Lady Volunteers win.

Catchings (17.8 ppg, 8.2 rpg) almost missed the game because of a concussion incurred Friday night. On the injured list all of last season because of a torn knee ligament, she was one of three rookies to play last night.

"Coming off the injury, all I wanted to do this year was just come out and have fun and play with my teammates and make it to the playoffs and do whatever I can to help," she said. "Whatever happens along the way happens, but to be here is like a dream come true."


WNBA expansion has been a hot topic, and league president Val Ackerman stuck to the idea yesterday that a team will form in San Antonio in 2003. But she did not indicate if the franchise would be new or the relocation of an existing team.

"I think it looks very good to have a team in San Antonio," she said. "It is our intent for that to be an expansion team. That's not to say that a relocation is not a possibility. ...In terms of how that would happen, it's really just too early to say."

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