July 15, 2007
WASHINGTON (AP) -- San Antonio's Becky Hammon won the Dribble, Dish and Swish competition and Washington's Laurie Koehn won the 3-point shooting contest before the WNBA All-Star game on Sunday.
The skills competition involved completing eight skill tasks, including hitting layups and a jumper, making chest and bounce passes and dribbling around obstacles.
In the final round, Hammon finished with a time of 27.1 seconds, edging Minnesota's Seimone Augustus -- the defending champion -- by .3 seconds.
"There's no preparing," Augustus said. "We didn't set anything up in Minnesota. You just come out here and freestyle. You already know how to dribble and pass, so you just have fun with it."
In the first round, Augustus (28.3 seconds) and Hammon (34.6) eliminated Seattle's Betty Lennox (40.0) and Washington's Nikki Teasley (39.4).
Koehn set the WNBA record in the 3-point event with 25 points -- tying Craig Hodges' NBA mark -- in the final round, beating Penny Taylor's score of 19 with one rack to go. Taylor's Phoenix teammate, Diana Taurasi, had 16.
Connecticut's Katie Douglas, Detroit's Deanna Nolan and Los Angeles' Sidney Spencer were eliminated in the first round.
For the second straight year, the New York Liberty were the only team without a player in the All-Star game.
Last season, guard Becky Hammon was voted to start, but missed the game due to a sprained left foot. This year, Hammon is with San Antonio and was voted a starter for the Western Conference, and no one on the Liberty was selected as a starter or a reserve.
Detroit coach Bill Laimbeer, who led the East this year, doesn't want to see the rule changed to force all teams to be represented.
"No, I don't believe in that," he said. "Not enough roster spots to begin with, and people want to see who the best players are."
Phoenix's Diana Taurasi is also against a mandatory rule considering the roster limitations of 11 players per team.
"The sad thing is New York is having a great year and probably should have someone from their team here," she said. "But who would you take off the Eastern Conference? ... You could expand the roster. Thirteen wouldn't be a bad idea, because you don't want to play too many minutes in an All-Star game, anyway."
Hammon became the second player to start for both conferences -- joining Dawn Staley, who accomplished the feat last season for Houston after previously starting for Charlotte.
"I'm excited just to be out there," said Hammon, who also missed the 2003 game after tearing the ACL in her right knee. "To be able to play for me is a big deal because I've missed so many of these opportunities with injuries."
Washington natives and Sacramento teammates Kara Lawson and Rebekkah Brunson earned their first All-Star appearances as reserves for the game played in their hometown.
"I couldn't have asked for a better opportunity, a better chance to come back here to be in D.C. for my first All-Star game," Lawson said. "I came up through everything the city has to offer from a basketball perspective. From the youth programs, to the AAU programs. I played in private school here, I played in public school. Everything about basketball in this city, I've been through in some way."
Although Brunson didn't play due to an injured leg, she still made the trip home to enjoy the atmosphere.
"It's still a great experience," the former Georgetown star said. "Of course I would like to be able to play in the game, but I still have the honor of being able to be a part of the All-Star team and to be able to come here and celebrate it in D.C."
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice left a lasting impression on several All-Stars when she spoke at the league's second annual All-Star Salute: Inspiring Women Luncheon on Friday.
"Anytime you are in the presence of someone, a great woman like that, it's definitely a great experience," Tamika Catchings said.
Seimone Augustus added: "She said a lot of things I did not expect her to say, like the fact that she was interested in sports and that she pursued figure skating. Even though we are professional athletes, you can always be inspired by someone, and that was definitely inspiring."