WNBA: Hometown Favorite Lurking In WNBA's Future?

By Mel Greenberg

UPDATE: Mel is aware that Tina Charles is from Queens, and asked me to update the post. - J.T.

    UNCASVILLE, Conn. - Here's an idea that won't go anywhere but would be fascinating.

   Instead of using a draft lottery this time around, perhaps the WNBA should consider adding on another postseason tournament to decide who will own the No. 1 pick next April.

   That would give some traditional teams such as New York, Detroit, possibly San Antonio, possibly Connecticut, and possibily Los Angeles activity they would normally enjoy in the real playoffs.

  True, the stakes won't be nearly as high as they would have been two years ago when the a rainbow with a pot of gold named Candace Parker was considered likely to forego her final season of eligibility at Tennessee and take a quick step into a her pro career.

  In the summer of 2007, while there was a terrific race at the top of the each division, Los Angeles and Minnesota were in a tight competition for worst record in the league and best shot at the ping pong balls that would lead to the opportunity to select Parker.

 Minnesota seemed a lock until Los Angeles lost a ton of games down the stretch and the Lynx suddenly were inficted with a small attitude of winning games.

  The Sparks should never have been in that situation but with Lisa Leslie missing the season following pregnancy and Chamique Holdsclaw becoming a retirement role model for the NFL's Bart Favre, Los Angeles plunged from its normal competitive heights.

  A year ago up here New York came into the Mohegan Sun Arena and grabbed a deciding playoff game that sent Connecticut into an early exit.

  On Wednesday night, the playoff dynamic was much different in the taffy pull known as the hunt for the postseason slots in the East behind front-running Indianapolis.

  The Sun was trying to hold its own, while New York was trying to move closer to joining the crowd.

   In the first half, the Liberty seemed ready to move a bit closer to playoff waters when New York took a 17-point lead while the only shots going down in the home venue where the ones being consumed in the various restaurants existing nearby in the casino-entertainment complex.

  By the time the night ended, however, the Sun had rallied, thanks to Lindsay Whalen's heroics, finishing with 20 points and 10 rebounds, while New York slipped away from the Straits of the Postseason deeper into the draft pool of also-rans.

  In the first half, New York's Shameka Christon and Janel McCarville each scored eight points, shooting 3-for-5 and 4-for-6 respectively. The two post players, however, were then shut down for the night, combining for an 0-for-10 effort the rest of the way.

   That left the Liberty with the second worst record in the league behind Sacramento, which was heading for underdog status in games the Monarchs were set to play Thursday and Friday nights.

    Of course it may be academic in terms of direrction if New York and Sacramento end up either way with the 1-2 picks next April.

     The Monarchs would be in the position to take what would pass as a hometown star in Stanford's Jayne Appel, whose collegiate team in the Bay Area of Northern California is located just a short drive away from where the Monarchs call home.

      That would leave New York in position to take yet a third star from nearby Rutgers in Brooklyn's E;pipphany Prince who has left the Scarlent Knights prior to her senior season to head for Europe, saying she could prepare better for a future life in the WNBA. The Liberty roster already cvontains Essence Carson and Kia Vaughn, who were Prince's teammates when Rutgers dashed to the NCAA title game in 2007.

     Of course, if Connecticut becomes the odd-team out in the Eastern gridlock, with a little luck in the lotto drawing, the Sun might be in position to take what likely could emerge as the top talent not named Mya Moore next April.

      That would be UConn's Tina Charles, giving the Sun a double win in the talent selectons. Then again, considering that Charles is a native of Queens, N.Y., perhaps the Liberty are in a position that - unlike Wednesday night here, and some previous games - they could not possibly screw up.

      Could they?

     -- Mel