Saturday, April 16, 2005 Updated: June 17, 1:32 PM ET
Storm, Shock score on draft day
By Mechelle Voepel Special to ESPN.com
SECAUCUS, N.J. -- One of the questions always is, "Who did the best on draft day?"
Tanisha Wright gives Seattle a slasher and top-notch defender.
I think I've answered this before on past draft days -- usually badly -- but why not take another crack at it?
The best draft goes to .... uh ... well ... OK, let's say Detroit and Seattle. Do the Shock need Kara Braxton when they already have Ruth Riley and Cheryl Ford? Well, Braxton needs time to get into shape, and this gives her that chance.
Detroit's other first-round pick, Oklahoma's Dionnah Jackson, is a superb defender who can guard a lot of different kinds of players. North Carolina's Nikita Bell is another strong defender. And Jenni Lingor, out of Southwest
Missouri State, is a very good 3-point shooter and overall scorer.
As for Seattle, the defending champion Storm obviously got late picks in each round, and it is often tough to accomplish much when that's the case. But all the Storm's selections made sense. Penn State's Tanisha Wright should be a good addition with her defensive skills and ability to score. UConn's Ashley Battle is a terrific athlete who knows how to win and fill what role she needs to. And Baylor's Steffanie Blackmon is certainly worth taking a chance on with a third-round pick.
The worst draft? Well, it is hard to say that because you just never know how things will turn out. But it's fair to say the most eyebrow-raising draft was New York's. Not a lot of mock drafts had Tennessee's Loree Moore going in the first round. Michigan's Tabitha Pool and Rutgers' Rebecca Richman were not on many (or any) radar screens, period.
The Liberty need a point guard. New York's best choices when it drafted were probably Moore or Oklahoma's Jackson. Critics probably would suggest that the Liberty could have gotten a more proven scorer (non-point guard) in the first round and still picked up Moore in the second.
Pool played for a Michigan team that really struggled, so perhaps she's a talent who just really needs to be around other talent. Richman is 6 feet, 4 inches, yet played just 13.6 minute per game for a post-challenged Rutgers team. So it's a little hard to see what the Liberty were going for there, other than some nebulous "untapped potential."
Were there big surprises in this draft? Not really. Most expected Houston to take a guard, not post player Sancho Lyttle. And considering how well UConn players have done in the WNBA, I thought Jessica Moore and Battle might have gone earlier rather than later in the second round.
Connecticut took a player, Kansas State's Megan Mahoney, that the Sun know won't play this season because of an Achilles injury. But that third-round pick wasn't a surprise: Sun coach Mike Thibault has long been interested in Mahoney because of her size, versatility and basketball smarts. He saw this pick in terms of what it will mean for the Sun's future and the encouragement it gives a player who'll be rehabbing the next several months.
Mechelle Voepel of the Kansas City Star is a regular contributor to ESPN.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.