Utah Starzz coach Denise Taylor looked very satisfied Wednesday evening as she sat on the back of one of those airport motorized carts next to her big prize, No. 1 WNBA draft choice, 7-foot-2 Malgorzata Dydek, at Salt Lake International.
Finally, after a couple of days' holdup wrangling for a visa to the United States, Dydek "Margo," "Mega," "The Franchise" - was here.And she belonged to no one but the Utah Starzz.
Dydek, 24, who speaks five languages including very good English, talked about the coming opportunity to play against big-name American Olympians like Lisa Leslie (Utah's first game is against Leslie's Los Angeles Sparks June 11) as being "really exciting. It will be a new experience for me," Dydek said.
As Dydek talked of a new challenge, Taylor, whose team was 7-21 and last in the WNBA in the league's first season, the reason the Starzz got the No. 1 overall pick, murmured about maybe actually beating some of those teams with big-time Olympians now that Dydek is on board.
Dydek arrived on Delta 1425 from New York City looking fresh after a 15 1/2-hour flight from her home in Poland, wearing tan jeans, a tan short-sleeved blouse and sandals.
The plane came in 10-15 minutes early, about 8:30 p.m., as the sun was about to set on the Wasatch Front with the mountains topped by a small batch of whipped-cream clouds that set them off nicely. "It was so pretty," Dydek said. "In Poland, we have mountains, too, but they are smaller."
Dydek drew some attention at the airport, people wondering about the tall woman and the Starzz entourage that included Taylor, assistant coach Fred Williams, trainer Leanne Stockton, public relations man Scott Miller, Russian interpreter Maxim Morozov and a few reporters and photographers. Many onlookers seemed to realize who she was, and some asked for autographs.
As soon as she got the chance, Dydek asked Taylor about the Starzz training-camp practices and was told she'd be busy Thursday morning going through her physical and paperwork and would likely have her first workout with her new team late this afternoon. The practice is closed to the public.
She said she would be eager to practice by then, but she told Taylor she was just a little dizzy from the long day Wednesday.
She'll also be happy to see some of the players she's known while playing in Poland, Spain and France - Starzz guards Chantel Tremitiere and Trise Jackson. She also knows Elena Baranova - who tipped Utah to study Dydek for the draft - but the Starzz center is still playing with her Russian team in the world championships and won't be in camp for perhaps a couple weeks.