Seven-foot-2, eyes of blue brother, what those seven feet can do.
Can anybody see her face?Well, maybe fans 15-20 rows up will be able to see 7-2 Malgorzata Dydek's face during games, but certainly nobody on the WNBA hardcourt will see eye-to-eye with the Utah Starzz' new prize possession, the No. 1 pick of the 1998 WNBA draft.
Dydek is thought to be the third-tallest woman in the world, according to websites devoted to height statistics. At 223 pounds, she has a fairly lithe build somewhat like Utah's Elena Baronova of Russia, last season's center who may now play wing with Wendy Palmer at power forward.
The tallest WNBA player last year was 6-8 Zheng Haixia of China, who played for the Los Angeles Sparks, Utah's first '98 opponent on June 11 in the Delta Center. Tallest in today's draft, other than "Mega" Dydek, as fans call her, is 6-8 Maria Stepanova of Russia.
That means the whole league will look up to Dydek, who is said to have good mobility, shot-blocking and shooting to go with all that height.
Having the first pick, Utah could have filled a need at guard with draft co-favorite Old Dominion point guard Ticha Penicheiro, who went second to the Sacramento Monarchs.
"We looked at it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said Starzz VP of basketball operations Scott Layden about choosing Dydek.
They took Dydek, said coach Denise Taylor, "because she can play, and she's 7-2."
The Starzz also had the first pick in the second, third and fourth rounds. In the first three, they somewhat surprisingly went big, for players who've been centers, when many draft watchers thought their needs were at guard. Utah's first three picks were all on the WNBA's "top 10" list of marquee players. The list came out before Penicheiro signed Tuesday.
In the second round, the Starzz took 6-2 forward/center Olympia Scott of Stanford '98, an All-Pac 10 first-teamer who was third in league rebounding (7.5) while scoring 17.5 a game for the Cardinal. She is both athletic and strong inside.
Utah's third-round pick, the 21st player chosen, is 6-0, 150-pound LaTonya Johnson of University of Memphis '98, who was Conference USA tourney MVP and an all-conference first-teamer. With its fourth pick, No. 31 overall, Utah chose 5-4 guard Tricia Bader of Boise State '96.
The rest of the first round: Muriel Page (Florida) to Washington, Korie Hlede (Duquesne) to Detroit, Allison Feaster (Harvard) to Los Angeles, Cindy Blodgett (Maine) to Cleveland, Tracy Reid (North Carolina) to Charlotte, Stepanova to Phoenix, Alicia Thomspon (Texas Tech) to New York and Polona Tzekova (Bulgaria) to Houston.
Dydek, 24 on Tuesday, played professionally in Spain, leading Madrid's Pool Getafe to a national title and second in the recent European championships, and in '95-96 for Euro champion France. She also played for Poland's Olympic Poznan of Poland in '94 and won a European title.
Two players from the University of Utah, guards Alli Bills, No.2 in the NCAA in assists at 7.9, and Julie Krommenhoek, No. 2 in NCAA scoring, 20.2, were in the WNBA draft pool, but both went undrafted.
The Starzz had the No. 1 pick in each round because their 7-21 record was worst in the WNBA's inaugural season. Of 97 players in Wednesday's draft, 44 were college seniors.