Trying hard to forget being on the losing end of the WNBA's worst loss ever, by 33 points Friday at Phoenix, the Utah Starzz (2-6) will shift their gaze on the Delta Center court to the defending champion, 7-1 Houston Comets.
They may shift their lineup, too.The Comets are coming off a rollicking victory at home Monday night during which they made 21 steals and forced 33 turnovers in holding the Washington Mystics (1-7) to the league's lowest score this season in a 73-48 win at Compaq Center.
Houston's defense held the WNBA's No. 2 scorer, rookie Nikki McCray, to only 10 points, making her now the No. 3 WNBA scorer. Meanwhile, 1997 WNBA MVP and current league scoring leader Cynthia Cooper scored 16 in 27 minutes and now averages 24.0 ppg. She will likely be first in the league to reach 200 points for the season; she needs just eight tonight.
Houston, in fact, has so many weapons (Cooper, 24.0 ppg; Sheryl Swoopes, 15.4; Tina Thompson, 13.9 ppg, 8.0 rpg; and guard Kim Perrot, who had seven steals Monday) that coach Van Chancellor ought to be arrested at the airport.
With Utah reeling on a five-game losing streak, and coming off that abominable game in Phoenix, it seems coach Denise Taylor is ready to make only her second change of the season in the starting lineup. Chantel Tremitiere, who started every 1997 game for the Sacramento Monarchs and who was traded to Utah for Lady Hardmon in the preseason, practiced at point guard Monday with the starters while Dena Head wore the whites of the second team.
Taylor would only say, "We've made some changes," and, "Yeah, possibly," on Monday about Tremitiere's status, and Tremitiere wouldn't speculate.
Tremitiere has, however, already made one dramatic change.
Her hair is back to its natural color, though she had to dye it to get it there.
"The blonde went out with the losing streak - hopefully," she says.
The change in hair color is not permanent. "It's just for now, for a little more concentration on basketball," Tremitiere said, noting she won't have to keep covering dark roots.
As for the last dismal game, Tremitiere pointed out that the other team that calls the Delta Center home suffered the NBA's worst playoff defeat but came back to win against the champion Bulls.
The Phoenix game was just one where the Starzz could do no right and the Mercury could do no wrong, Tremitiere said.
Taylor said she could have slowed the game down and taken a loss that didn't look so dreadful on the scoreboard, but she said she chose to keep running the offense and treating it almost like a practice. "We kept executing with our game plan," she said. Taylor did hold 7-foot-2 Margo Dydek to only 21 minutes. "It was extremely physical," Taylor reasoned. Dydek, of Poland, is just learning the physical American game.
Taylor wants Utah trying to run again against the Comets, even though Perrot (3.38) is No. 2 and Swoopes (2.25) No. 4 in WNBA steals. "Transition is part of our game plan, pushing it up the floor," she says. Half-court execution needs to be better, she adds. Utah worked on screens and spacing Monday.
NOTZZ: Nobody seemed to care for a Fat Foxx mascot for the Starzz, so the team did a video played at last Thursday's Charlotte game, showing how the fox costume evolved and how the fox went through rigorous workouts to shed the excess weight. A trim fox was introduced. But he still needs a name, and there's a contest awaiting you if you have a good one. Of course, the Jazz bear is just Bear, so the Starzz fox could be just Fox . . . Cooper was fined $300 Friday by the WNBA for comments she made about the officiating in Houston's 69-66 loss at Phoenix June 24 . . . Dydek (3.0) remains the WNBA leader and Elena Baranova is third (1.67) in blocked shots per game.