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Volume 68, Issue 144, Monday, June 2, 2003

Sports

Cooper return may spark Comets

WNBA Report

Christian Schmidt

The WNBA is a little more than a week into its season, and thus far there have been few surprises, with the Western Conference looking strong with Los Angeles on top and Charlotte heading up a weak Eastern Conference.



With the return of Cynthia Cooper to the Comets, Sheryl Swoopes (pictured) and Houstonis hopes of driving to the championship are easier.

Photo courtesy of the Houston Comets

The contenders

Anyone who doesnit think the WNBA title will go to Los Angeles or Houston this year just isnit paying attention. The Sparks have reeled off four consecutive wins and are the only undefeated team in the 14-team league.

The Los Angeles Sparks are the defending champions. Moreover, they have found ways to make their team even better. The addition of power forward Jennifer Gillom, who was an All-Star for most of her career in Phoenix, should make the Sparks just about unstoppable. Gillom provides more scoring punch in the post and takes some of the pressure off superstar Lisa Leslie.

The other favorite has to be the Houston Comets. The "Big Three" are back in place as Houston made its own addition from Phoenix in two-guard Cynthia Cooper. Cooper was the MVP of the league in its first two seasons but retired two years ago to coach Phoenix. Now she is back with Houston and looking for another title.

With Cooper is last yearis MVP Sheryl Swoopes, All-Star power forward Tina Thompson and valuable role players Janeth Arcain and Michelle Snow. It may take some time for Houston to hit its stride, but this team will be a contender by the playoffs.

Gambling for everyone

Professional sports franchises have generally done everything in their power to distance themselves from gambling of any sort. But in an unprecedented move over the offseason, the WNBA broke that trend. When the Miami Sol was sold to the Mohegan Sun, a casino and resort owned by the Mohegan tribe of Connecticut, it became the first franchise owned by a company with gambling interests.

The renamed Connecticut Sun has gotten off to a fast start in its new home with a win over the Comets. The best move the Sun has made thus far was to trade for Rebecca Lobo. The backup power forward will never be the player she was before she suffered injuries to both legs, but no one is more popular in the state of Connecticut, where she played in college for UConn.

Pre-Season MVP

The favorites for the Most Valuable Player award going into the year have to be Los Angelesi Leslie and Houstonis Swoopes. Between them they have won the past three MVP awards and are considered two of the best players (along with Cooper, now past her prime) in the leagueis short history.

Let me add another name to the list of potential MVPs this season: Tamika Catchings. The third-year player for the Indiana Fever is widely seen as the best young player in the league. I think this is the year she becomes the best player, period. In two games this season, she is averaging 17 points, 9.5 rebounds and four assists per game, and her team is good enough to be the best in the Eastern Conference.

 Send comments to dcsports@mail.uh.edu

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