Utah Starzz guard Chantel Tremitiere spent the long WNBA off-season "incognito."
Teammates tried without success to contact her regarding the WNBA collective bargaining process. The Starzz didn't know Tremitiere's whereabouts after she returned last fall from playing in Poland with Margo Dydek's team."I was getting ready," Tremitiere said, adding she was playing in several leagues and in some men's games.
She couldn't have known until December when the American Basketball League folded just how ready she might have to be to start 1999. When the ABL went under, and when the new collective bargaining agreement allowed existing WNBA teams to pick up to three ex-ABLers each in the May 4 draft, it meant many more good players vying for WNBA jobs when training camps opened Friday morning.
And the Starzz have always needed better guard play.
"Competition is what the whole pro thing is about. Competition is good," said Tremitiere Thursday as she and the Starzz participated in media day.
Also in the Delta Center meeting room Thursday were two point-guard draftees, the exciting Debbie Black and former NCAA assist champion Dalma Ivanyi, as well as Starzz veteran guards Tammi Reiss, Dena Head and Tricia Bader, training camp returnee Kari Gallup of BYU and free-agent guard/forwards Crystal Carpenter (Charleston Southern 1999) and Marlene Stollings (Ohio 1998).
"There's a lot of guards," Tremitiere said.
Reiss anticipates playing shooting guard with Black and Ivanyi around. "I'm so happy with our draft picks," she said, noting their "passion for the game."
Inside players who reported Wednesday night included Starzz veterans Wendy Palmer, LaTonya Johnson and Olympia Scott-Richardson, ex-ABL draftees Natalie Williams and Adrienne Goodson and free agent Michelle Campbell (Southern Cal 1997).
Late training-camp invitee Ellen Bayer, 1998 Miss Tall Club International winner and nearly as tall as Margo Dydek, was to arrive Thursday night.
The Starzz were to practice 10-12 Friday morning and 6-8 tonight at Franklin Covey, do kids' clinics Saturday and practice twice Sunday.
Frank Layden, who took over as Starzz coach with seven games left in the 1998 season, said his first training camp will emphasize conditioning, shooting and finishing. He'll maintain double-day practices into June, though he may unexpedtedly call one off to take the team to a movie or bowling. He'll make cuts after the second exhibition game (June 5).
Free agent Krystyna Lara, a 5-8 point guard from Poland, and Starzz veterans Dydek and Elena Baranova are still playing in Europe and won't be in camp until June. The Starzz play their first exhibition May 22 at Washington. They open the season June 12 in the Delta Center against expansion Orlando.
Utah is also loaded with inside players. "It's exciting to play against all these great players," said Johnson, a rookie last year.
Her fellow '98 rookie, Scott-Richardson, who delivered her first child five weeks ago, agreed. "I'm not threatened. I'm excited. I like our depth in the post," she said, noting other teams can't try to foul out one center because there are more to come. "We got Natalie, that's the most exciting thing," Scott-Richardson said.
STARZZ NOTZZ: Palmer changed her uniform number from 14 to 4 and said she'll tell why later. "At a certain time, I will reveal it," she said. She has also worn 34 and 31 in her career and wears a pendant with the No. 3 on it from a sorority. "I wasn't happy with 14," she said. Palmer spent the off-season playing in Hungary, where three-a-day practices got her into good shape. . . . Goodson was nearly as surprised as was Starzz management that she was still available in the draft's third round. "I was shocked," she admitted, "but you get your blessing in different forms. I wanted to play for somebody who sets standards," and she perceives Layden as that type . . . Ivanyi said her joy is in making assists (sound familiar, Jazz fans?), but she has tried to learn to shoot more. She watched Wednesday's Jazz game on TV and said she was even yelling at John Stockton to shoot. Ivanyi is from Mezobereny, Hungary, and played at Florida International. "I've never lived in a place where we had mountains," she said, hoping to do some Wasatch hiking.