The Utah Starzz have found a way to have their cake and eat it, too.
When they drafted 7-foot-2 Malgorzata Dydek of Poland No. 1 last week, they did so while still drooling a bit over Old Dominion point guard Ticha Penicheiro, a consensus "top two" WNBA pick who went second overall to the Sacramento Monarchs.All the draft analyses said Utah needed a point guard most, but the Starzz couldn't pass up Dydek, thought to be the world's third-tallest woman.
"I was told (by Sacramento) that, `Well, we want Dydek, but if we can't get her, the next-best player in the draft is Penicheiro, and we have to take the next-best player,' " said former Monarch starting point guard Chantel Tremitiere, 29.
She knew what that meant.
She asked to be traded. Tuesday, she was. Now the Starzz have their 7-2 catch and someone to throw her the ball.
Scott Layden, Starzz vice president of basketball operations, says they wanted Tremitiere in last year's draft. "We had a good interview with her in the pre-draft camp. It's funny how things work out.
"She's an aggressive player who pushed the ball upcourt, and she seemed like a nice person, a real team player when we interviewed her," Layden said. "(At Sacramento) she also had a lot of assists. That's something we could clearly use."
When she found out the Monarchs had moved her to the Starzz for big guard Lady Hardmon, she remembers thinking, "Great. I wanted to be traded."
And she didn't care too much where. "I just wanted to go to a good situation where they were going to win," Tremi-tiere said in a telephone conversation from her sister's home in Pennsylvania Wednesday.
She was on her way to Sacramento Wednesday and will be in Utah Sunday. Training camp starts with physicals Monday.
"I'm psyched about going to Utah," Tremitiere said. "It's a pleasant surprise. They've got a lot of good athletes on that team, coach (Denise) Taylor's a good coach, and obviously they've got great management - just look at the Jazz."
Utah didn't win a lot last year, posting a WNBA-worst 7-21 record. Tremitiere and the 10-18 Monarchs played Utah six times last season, including two exhibition games.
"Sacramento made me a better player by trading me to Utah," she said, figuring to be passing to a 7-2 player who can catch, pass and shoot.
She also joins hard-working power forward Wendy Palmer, 6-5 Elena Baranova, who can now roam around as the small forward; rugged and inspired 6-2 inside forward Olympia Scott of Stanford, the No. 11 overall choice in last week's draft; and No. 21 pick LaTonya Johnson, a 6-0 transition athlete who can score facing the basket or from the low block.
The 5-6 Tremitiere, one of 12 adopted children in a family of 15 kids, learned basketball from her nine brothers, who needed one more to play five-on-five. She's been an assistant coach at three colleges but is devoting time now to playing. She spent the winter working on shooting after averaging 7.6 points and 35 percent accuracy at Sacramento. That's about what Utah shot from the field; it must be upgraded.
Asked what's best in her game, the usually outspoken, trash-talking Tremitiere stammers, saying she's always asked that. "I can't come up with a word," she said, "but everyone is going to get the ball. I like to distribute the ball."
With Dydek's 85-inch wingspan, "I'm just going to throw the ball up there by the rim," she added.
Tremitiere roomed with Dydek's older sister while playing in Poland last winter, though she has yet to meet "Margo," who was playing in Spain. "I don't know a whole lot about Margo, but she's 7-2," Tremitiere said. She also played some with Palmer and guard Kim Williams over the off-season and is acquainted with fellow guards Tammi Reiss and Dena Head and forward Karen Booker.
Tremitiere will likely share the Starzz backcourt with Reiss, Williams and Head, but she says there's no conflict when it comes to the acting careers of herself and Reiss. Reiss, said Tremitiere, is more a serious actress. "I do more comedy," she added.