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Elena Delle Donne hopes to share lessons from her life and career in new books


Courtesy of USA Today:

Even for a program like Connecticut, Elena Della Donne was a big deal. The Huskies routinely bring in top classes, but by 2008 Delle Donne had become perhaps the most talked-about high school girls basketball player in history, destined for multiple titles with the nation’s most elite program.

Then, after only a short stay on campus the summer before her freshman season, she left. Her decision to transfer to the University of Delaware is still scrutinized nearly 10 years — and one WNBA MVP award and Olympic gold medal — later.

Now, she’s hoping to pass on the life lessons she learned then – and from the rest of her career (so far) – in two new books: Her memoir, My Shot, and the first in a series of kids books, Elle of the Ball. Delle Donne wants both books — which are written with a collaborator and will be released by Simon and Schuster in March of 2018 — to be accessible to children and teenagers who may be struggling with the same feelings she had when she was younger.

“It’s been a couple of years in my career and I feel like at this point I’m comfortable with who I am, where I am,” Delle Donne said. “A lot of lessons I’ve learned along the way, and I love kids so I definitely wanted these first books to be geared towards a younger age group and just wanted to share some life lessons. Also just give a little bit of fun reading.”

Among those life lessons, she said, are those she learned in the years after her departure from UConn, when long-simmering feelings of burnout culminated in an abrupt – but necessary – break from the sport before returning to the court at Delaware a year later. She said she began feeling burned out long before she stepped on campus in Storrs, Conn. and in her book shares some of the emotions she was feeling in the years leading up to that famous departure.

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

“It was definitely a chance to tell it in my own way and in my own words, even going through the writing process of it all. At some points it’s kind of emotional to have to re-live moments that were tough, especially the whole Connecticut turmoil and going through that I felt like I had to re-live those emotions in order to re-tell it the way I was experiencing it in that time,” she said. “So I would say that was one of the hardest parts of the book was getting through that and burnout was a huge part of the book and I think — even if you’re not an athlete — there’s things in life you feel like you’re burning out in and I tell it from my perspective and how I got through it and hope that can help others.”

There are other life lessons in the books that Delle Donne hopes can appeal to kids – and grownups – across different audiences. Which means she hopes that both boys and girls take away something from the books. In Elle of the Ball, a book about a middle school basketball player, there’s a boy character too.

“So if they don’t relate to my character hopefully they can relate to another one and that was very important to me,” she said.

Delle Donne also hopes to offer some of what she learned about perseverance, having the right people to support you and some tales about life being so tall. (Delle Donne is 6-foot-5).

“It took me until college to really be comfortable,” she said. “Obviously basketball helped a lot but I would say college is when I finally loved my height and embraced it.”

As for feeling comfortable with herself as a whole? As it is for any of us, it’s an ongoing process, she said.

“But I’m in a great place now and I feel like I’ve really learned so much over the years,” she said. “This was a great time to reflect and share some lessons.”


Original Source: http://ftw.usatoday.com/2017/07/elena-delle-donne-book

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Elena Delle Donne makes herself right at home with Mystics

Courtesy of ESPN:

WASHINGTON — Elena Delle Donne hasn’t attempted her first subway ride in the nation’s capital, the Beltway gives her a headache and her dogs Wrigley and Rasta are only lukewarm to their new digs in northern Virginia.

But just about every other part of the 2015 WNBA MVP’s transition to a new team and new city looks as free and easy as, well, an EDD jump shot.

And plenty of shots hit the mark during a Sunday matinee for the Washington Mystics, who never trailed in breezing past San Antonio 89-74 at the Verizon Center.

Delle Donne, who requested to be traded from the Chicago Sky during the offseason, scored a team-best 24 on 8-of-12 shooting in her debut for a Mystics team that has generated buzz as a possible contender for a first-ever league championship.

“Obviously, you come in and get 24 points in your debut, that probably sets a pretty good tone for things,” said Washington coach Mike Thibault, though conceding he expects a far different look from the Stars when the teams meet later this summer.

“This is exactly what I was hoping for and even more,” said Delle Donne, who, teamed with the league’s top 3-point shooter Emma Meesseman, gives the Mystics one of the more potent frontcourts. “I knew coming here this team had chemistry. But when you get here and you feel it and experience it, it’s even better than I imagined. It’s so fun to play with so much talent and so many options.”

San Antonio played without three starters in Kelsey Plum, the No. 1 pick in last month’s draft who’s out with a right ankle sprain, Moriah Jefferson (right knee soreness), and Kayla McBride (overseas playing in the Turkish League finals). McBride and Jefferson led the Stars in scoring in 2016 and Plum, from the University of Washington, comes in as the NCAA’s all-time leading scorer.

The Stars also are coming off rare back-to-back road games, having lost 73-64 to New York on Saturday night in Madison Square Garden. That didn’t stop Monique Currie from amassing 31 points, less than 24 hours after scoring 23.

The Mystics are intact, though they haven’t been for long as Kristi Toliver and Meesseman joined the group midway through last week. While the defense had some lapses, including Delle Donne weathering five fouls, Thibault largely attributed that to the newcomers still figuring out what is familiar to veterans Tayler Hill, Natasha Cloud, Tierra Ruffin-Pratt and Ivory Latta.

“They’re used to talking to each other and those kinds of things, and it’s going to take a little longer to integrate the newer players.

“[Elena] will get better once she gets used to our defensive system,” he said. “She’ll be able to anticipate some things and get there a little bit quicker. I think a couple of her fouls were just from being a count late.”

That said, Thibault couldn’t have been more pleased with his franchise player, quipping this about her free-throw prowess: “We have a rule that if you violate while she’s shooting the free throw, we’re going to fine you 25 bucks apiece. So we had one almost do it early in the game. They’re all going to fine her for missing a free throw because it’s such a rare thing.”

Delle Donne, who set a Sky record for 97 made free throws her rookie season, sank her first seven from the line and finished 8 of 9.

She’s already a fan favorite, too, though the announced crowd of 6,126 was nearly half of the opening day attendance a year ago in D.C., most likely a result of a midafternoon game on Mother’s Day and the first-place Nationals playing an afternoon home game nearby.

While it’ll take a while for her jersey to rival anything worn by Alex Ovechkin and Bryce Harper, plenty of girls, boys and even grown men walked around the Verizon Center showing off her No. 11.

Dave Noren pulled up his new Delle Donne T-shirt to reveal Delle Donne Chicago Sky garb. “I’m from Chicago,” he said, admitting that he prefers she play in Washington given his suburban Virginia address. Sons Greg, 12, and Zach, 9, also had their own Delle Donne paraphernalia.

“She’s the best,” Zach said.

Greg added, “She’s really good.”

Delle Donne cited wanting to be closer to home as the primary reason she wanted to leave Chicago. Now home is a straight shot up I-95 north to Wilmington, Delaware, a far easier trek for parents Ernie and Joan Delle Donne than navigating a plane ride in and out of O’Hare International.

Short of relocating a WNBA franchise to the tri-state area, “This is perfect,” said Ernie Delle Donne, sitting alongside his son Gene, daughter-in-law Jennifer, granddaughter Gia and Amanda Clifton, Elena’s fiancé.

Ernie Delle Donne, who traveled to 28 of Elena’s 32 home games last season, used to leave his office no later than 11 a.m. for a night game in Chicago. If he was lucky, he’d be back to work by 1 p.m., the next afternoon.

“Now for a 7 o’clock game, I can leave at 4 and be here in time for tipoff and be back before midnight,” he said.

Elena lunched with her mother on Thursday — Joan Delle Donne stayed at home with Elena’s sister, Lizzie, on Sunday — and handed off a Mother’s Day gift to Gene. Lizzie, who has cerebral palsy and autism, is expected to come for two games.

The family is expected to make good use of their recently purchased vacation home on the water in Annapolis, Maryland. Friday night, Elena met her family for a Mexican meal and had a flatbread from Dunkin’ Donuts with everyone before arriving at the Verizon Center by noon Sunday.

“The drive from our house to practice here is actually a lot better than in Chicago,” Clifton said. “Just being out here, being close to family automatically puts her in a better place. She’s much happier, not just about basketball, but about life.”

Joe Biden wasn’t in the house on Sunday, but the former vice president from Delaware told Thibault he expects to attend four or five games. The first state was well represented, however. The University of Delaware, Delle Donne’s alma mater, sent down a charter bus of 44 fans.

“This is wonderful,” said Carol Dillon, a regular at Delaware’s Bob Carpenter Center during Delle Donne’s college. “We can take the train.”

Seated next to her in the second row at midcourt, her friend Helen Hannan added while mimicking a jump shot, “I could watch her shoot all day.”

“I knew the Delaware faithful would show up,” Delle Donne said. “That’s my crew; that’s my family. Delaware always makes me proud. It’s truly a home game. Delaware doesn’t care if it’s two hours. It’s home for them as well.”

While Delle Donne will be the focal point for the Mystics offense, she’s surrounded by shooters, including Toliver. The former Maryland star, who won a league championship last year as a member of the L.A. Sparks, scored eight and added four assists.

“I played four years two miles down the road,” said Toliver, whose father, former AAU teammates and high school bestie were in the stands. “It feels like home.”

Tayler Hill, one of two mothers on this team along with Tianna Hawkins, finished with 15, and Meesseman had 13 with nine boards.

“Offensively we didn’t have to force much and I think it’s going to continue to be that way,” Delle Donne said. “Any player can step up anytime and any night. It’s exciting to be on a team with this many options.”


Original Source: http://www.espn.com/wnba/story/_/id/19367118/wnba-moms-getting-more-help-ever-face-challenges

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University of Delaware women’s basketball coach retires

Courtesy of WDEL:

The University of Delaware has another opening to fill. Long-time women’s head basketball coach Tina Martin has announced her retirement.

Martin recently finished her 21st year at the helm of the Blue Hens, piling up 408 wins, a school record for either men’s or women’s basketball. She took her teams to four NCAA tournaments and seven WNIT invites. She had 20 wins or more in 12 of the past 18 seasons.

She released the following statement.

“After a great deal of thought, I’ve decided the time is right for me to retire as head coach at the University of Delaware and move on to the next chapter of my life.  Delaware basketball has been my passion for over 20 years and I am going to miss it. I’ve been fortunate to work with very driven and loyal assistant coaches, talented student-athletes, great teams, and supportive fans. I would like to thank all of the athletic directors I have worked with at UD, including Bernard Muir and Eric Ziady and especially Edgar Johnson who hired me 21 years ago. My staff and I have established an outstanding winning tradition and I will always be proud of my legacy at the University of Delaware.”

Martin was named conference coach of the year three times and coached WNBA star Elena Delle Donne, who was the second overall pick in the WNBA draft and won Rookie of the Year and MVP honors.

Martin’s consistent success peaked with four conference championships.

In their final season in the America East Conference in 2000-01, her squad finished 17-1 in the league, on their way to a 26-5 campaign.

The move to the Colonial Athletic Association meant a huge hurdle was put in their way, national-power Old Dominion under head coach Wendy Larry.

Delaware went 111-40 overall in their first five seasons in the league, but had to settle for four WNIT appearances and a conference-regular season title in 2002-03.

They would win a then-program-record 26 games in 2006-07, finishing tied for second in the league, but a win over Old Dominion in the regular season helped the Blue Hens join the Lady Monarchs and James Madison as three CAA teams earned bids to the 2007 NCAA Tournament.

The floor caved in the following year, with a 7-24 record, including 1-12 outside of the league in 2007-08.

After a 15-15 campaign in 2008-09, a gift fell into her program’s lap as a Delaware product named Elena Delle Donne made a decision to resume playing basketball, and chose her home state’s top university.

The four Delle Donne years saw the Blue Hens win 104 games, and took the program to new heights.

They started with two more WNIT appearances, and a spot in the 2011 CAA championship game, but then the explosion happened.

Delaware went 63-6 over the new two seasons, being ranked as high as No. 7 in the Associated Press poll as they not only made the 2012 NCAA tournament, but won their program’s first post-season game at Arkansas-Little Rock as a No. 3 regional seed.

2013 brought Martin and the Hens news they would host the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, and despite Delle Donne beginning to battle what would turn out to be Lyme Disease, they again won the CAA, and took advantage of their hosting opportunity.

A 78-69 win over West Virginia was followed by a 78-69 upset of No. 3-seed North Carolina, sending the Blue Hens to the Sweet 16 in Brideport, Connecticut.

Delaware would get close late, but Kentucky’s tenacious defense eventually wore down the Hens in a 69-62 defeat, ending the career of Delle Donne and a 7-player senior class.

Despite the momentum at that point, Martin’s squad has fallen back to the pack in the four years since.

One final WNIT apperance came at the end of a 20-11 season in 2013-2014, making her 0-7 in the secondary post-season tournament.

The last three years her squads went 47-46, finishing no better than 4th in conference play, as James Madison and Drexel have stepped to the forefront in the league.

Martin was a basketball star at Lock Haven University and was an assistant at Lock Haven and Seton Hall before taking the head coaching job at Delaware in 1996.

Martin’s top assistant for her entire time with the program, Jeanine Radice, has been named the interim head coach. The school said in a statement they will begin a national search for Martin’s replacement.


Original Source: http://www.wdel.com/sports/university-of-delaware-women-s-basketball-coach-retires/article_5d5beb54-2c15-11e7-b4f6-c79d8bbc63d2.html

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Five Reasons To Watch The Mystics Work This Season

Courtesy of WNBA:

2016 Record:

Key Offseason Moves:
Acquired Elena Delle Donne in a trade with the Chicago Sky in exchange for Stefanie Dolson, Kahleah Copper and the No. 2 pick in the 2017 WNBA Draft

Acquired the No. 6 pick in the 2017 draft from the Seattle Storm as part of a three-team trade with the Mystics sending Bria Hartley and Kia Vaughn to New York

Signed free agent Kristi Toliver

Re-signed Tayler Hill

2016 Highlights

EDD Takes DC

The Mystics pulled off one of the biggest trades in WNBA history by acquiring former MVP and scoring champ Elena Delle Donne from the Chicago Sky.

Her list of accolades is lengthy, including individual awards and her contributions to Team USA’s Gold Medal in Rio last summer. One thing is certain – she can revitalize Washington’s franchise. Her arrival has already caused a whirlwind of speculation and sky-high expectations for the team this season. She will produce, just as she always does, and the Mystics can do some incredible things this season because of her immense talents.

Adding A ‘Spark’

The Mystics didn’t just make a splash on the trade market, they also did in free agency. The club signed Kristi Toliver from the Los Angeles Sparks, fresh off her WNBA championship victory over the Minnesota Lynx.

Playing her last seven seasons in LA beside Candace Parker, Toliver is now a seasoned vet with a championship ring and solid leadership qualities. Her outside shooting ability will give Washington another option to stretch the floor on offense and take some pressure off of Delle Donne.

The Balling Belgian

Perhaps the scariest part about the Mystics is that, in addition to EDD and the other scorers on the roster, they also boast perhaps the WNBA’s most versatile center.

Indeed, 23-year-old Emma Meesseman is a stretch-5 who can pull her defender outside the 3-point line and create easy routes to the basket for her teammates. She can also knock shots down from deep, as evidenced by her near-45% mark from long distance, ranking best in the league ahead of Seattle’s Sue Bird.

Meesseman attempted and made the most 3’s of her career last season, resulting in the highest scoring output in her four years in the WNBA. It’ll be interesting to see what year five holds for the Belgian.

Top Of The Hill

In her first year as a starter, Tayler Hill started in all 32 games she played and led the Mystics with 15.4 points per game. She averaged career-highs across the board and nearly doubled her scoring average from the year before.

Now with an established scorer like EDD around, Hill should be able to get better looks, leading to more efficient scoring. If all the pieces come together quickly, this Mystics offense should be one of the league’s most potent.

Sharp-Shooting Shatori

With the No. 6 pick in the 2017 Draft, the Mystics selected Shatori Walker-Kimbrough from Maryland, and she should be able to contribute immediately as a 3-point markswoman.

After all, shooting threes is what she does best, having set Maryland and Big 10 3-point field goal percentage marks as well as leading the NCAA in 3-point shooting as a junior, shooting 54.5% from behind the arc.

The Mystics already have the first, third and fourth best 3-point shooters from last season (Meesseman, Delle Donne and Toliver, respectively) and now added arguably the best shooter available in the draft. The pick came from the Storm in a three-team deal that saw the Liberty land Bria Hartley and Kia Vaughn. This offense has the capabilities of being a modern, run-and-gun WNBA offense.


Original Source: http://www.wnba.com/news/five-reasons-watch-mystics-work-season/

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Mystics open training camp with revamped roster, elevated expectations

Courtesy of The Washington Post:

The Washington Mystics opened training camp Monday morning with an energetic practice and a retooled roster following an active offseason in which they added, among others, Elena Delle Donne, the 2015 WNBA MVP who has teammates entertaining thoughts of delivering the franchise its first championship.

Delle Donne was among 15 players who attended the first of two practices at Verizon Center after reporting to camp Sunday afternoon. The Mystics also were scheduled to practice Monday night and expected to spend the majority of that time in five-on-five scrimmages.

During the later stages of Monday’s first practice, Mystics Coach and General Manager Mike Thibault discussed pick-and-roll defense, emphasizing communication, particularly with younger players. Washington has four rookies in camp, including guard Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, the sixth overall pick out of Maryland.

“We’re going to harp on constantly,” Thibault said. “That’s going to probably be the thing that determines how good we ultimately are. Can we be a good defensive team, not an average defensive team, and if we are a good defensive team, we’re going to score a good amount of points probably. I’m happy for the first day.”

On a broader scale, Thibault reinforced the importance of taking a winning attitude into the season, which commences May 14 at home against the San Antonio Stars.

The Mystics are coming off a 13-21 record last year, missing the playoffs for the first time since Thibault took over in December 2012.

“It was all about culture, which is why I was so drawn to this team,” Delle Donne said with regard to Thibault’s message. “It’s just about building that culture with one another, the communication, the trust and giving everything we have.

“I also like that he said, ‘Expectations mean you have a chance.’ When there are no expectations on a team, it means you have no chance. I really liked that, and I took that away.”

During her introductory news conference in February, Delle Donne mentioned bringing a WNBA title to the District as soon as possible. That sentiment continued to resonate throughout the locker room at the start of this training camp, with both veterans and newcomers indicating the parts are in place to make a championship run.

In addition to Delle Donne, the Mystics added point guard Kristi Toliver, a free agent signing who helped the Los Angeles Sparks win the WNBA Finals last season. The former Maryland standout is not in camp because of overseas obligations and, according to the team, is expected to join the Mystics early next month.

So too is power forward Emma Meesseman, a first-time all-star two years ago and the league leader in three-point field goal percentage last season. Meesseman also has basketball obligations internationally with the same Russian Women’s Basketball Premier League team as Toliver.

Meesseman’s absence along with the offseason trades of centers Stefanie Dolson and Kia Vaughn has Krystal Thomas, entering her first season with Washington, on track to get significant work during training camp. Thomas, a 6-foot-5 center, signed with the Mystics as a free agent after spending last season with the Seattle Storm.

The Mystics also are without forward-center LaToya Sanders, a top post defender who is out indefinitely because of a foot injury.

“For me, I’m just trying to do whatever the team needs,” Thomas said. “Wherever Coach T tells me to go, that’s where I’m going to go. I’m here to serve. I’m here to be part of the team and help this team do big things in the playoffs and eventually lead to a championship. I just want to work hard, be a vocal leader, bring my experience from playing in the league.”

Thomas is the only player on the active training camp roster other than Toliver and point guard Ivory Latta with at least five years in the league. Among the Mystics’ projected starters, only Toliver has more than four years of WNBA experience.

Even with Toliver overseas, the Mystics still have plenty of depth at point guard. Natasha Cloud was the starter for most of the last two seasons, and Latta started 67 of 68 games during 2013 and ’14, her first two years with Washington.

Tayler Hill also has served spot duty at point guard. The No. 4 pick in the 2013 draft is the projected starter at shooting guard after re-signing with Washington this past offseason.

“You’ve just got to live up to the expectations,” said Latta, a two-time all-star participating in the 10th training camp of her professional career. “We’ve got great players. We’ve got great additions to the team. The sky’s the limit. I just can’t wait until we all come together. Emma’s not here, Toliver’s not here. Whenever we all come together, it could be something very special.”


Original Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/dc-sports-bog/wp/2017/04/19/washington-mystics-elena-delle-donne-takes-part-in-pre-training-camp-workout/?utm_term=.14fced280339

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Washington Mystics’ Elena Delle Donne takes part in pre-training camp workout

Courtesy of The Washington Post:

In the first round of pickup games Wednesday with her new Washington Mystics teammates, Elena Delle Donne received a pass along the baseline, pump faked to draw a defender in the air and scored on a up-and-under shot off the glass.

The sequence led Tianna Hawkins, who had given up the basket, to mutter an expletive. Watching from a nearby seat at the Verizon Center practice court, Mystics Coach and General Manager Mike Thibault empathized.

“Welcome to the club,” he said, smiling. “That’s what I was saying the entire game when whenever we played her.”

During one stretch, Delle Donne made four shots in a row, including two difficult floaters after spinning by her defender. She also made her share of three-pointers from NBA range, each time eliciting a smile from Thibault, who orchestrated the trade for Delle Donne in the most significant move in franchise history.

Delle Donne was named WNBA MVP in 2015 and last season finished tied for first in the league in scoring, averaging 21.5 points per game for the Chicago Sky. The Mystics acquired Delle Donne from the Sky, which drafted her No. 2 overall in 2013, in exchange for the No. 2 pick in this year’s draft, center Stefanie Dolson and guard Kahleah Copper.

“I feel good,” Delle Donne said. “We all were a little winded. Obviously that’s how it is the first time getting up and down with one another, but some really good things I’ve seen. Obviously some things to work on, and I think coach is itching to get out there and coach us.”

While Delle Donne was the centerpiece of the Mystics’ offseason transactions, Thibault also added other players expected to contribute significantly, including point guard Kristi Toliver. The former Maryland star, however, was not at Wednesday’s workout because of overseas commitments.

Toliver plays for UMMC Ekaterinburg, the same Russian Women’s Basketball Premier League team as Emma Meesseman, a first-team all-star two years ago with the Mystics. UMMC Ekaterinburg is in the RWBPL finals beginning Saturday, and both players are expected to miss a majority of training camp.

Other Mystics players, including two-time all-star guard Ivory Latta and free agent signing Krystal Thomas, are scheduled to arrive later this week, with the majority of the team assembling for the first practice of training camp Monday.

“I already like what I see in just pickup,” said point guard Natasha Cloud, entering her third year with the Mystics. “This is our first time playing since coming back from overseas and kind of having down time, getting back in shape. We’re already clicking.”

Guards Tayler Hill and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, the No. 6 overall pick in last week’s draft who didn’t have far to travel to join her new team, also stood out Wednesday. Walker-Kimbrough played at Maryland, where she was a three-time first-team all-Big Ten selection.

Hill made six shots in a row at one point, all from long range, illustrating the potential matchup issues opponents figure to face when guarding the Mystics, who have three of the WNBA’s top four three-point shooters from last season.

Walker-Kimbrough also has shown an ability to make three-pointers consistently, shooting 55 percent from beyond the arc as junior to lead all Division I players.

“It was definitely a challenge, but the most exciting part is I feel myself getting better,” said Walker-Kimbrough, the fourth all-time leading scorer for the Terrapins. “The girls are great. They’re encouraging me, just going at me, making me better, so it was a great day.”


Original Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/dc-sports-bog/wp/2017/04/19/washington-mystics-elena-delle-donne-takes-part-in-pre-training-camp-workout/?utm_term=.14fced280339

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New commercial perfectly answers all questions about why you should watch women play hoops

Courtesy of USA Today:

So last year’s WNBA finals, as we’ve written on this site, was overall a pretty phenomenal and exciting series of hoops. With the WNBA draft on Thursday night and the season only a month away, the league released a new video reminding us all about some of the craziest two minutes in basketball along with some clips that should easily answer the question about if women are tough enough to play basketball.


Original Source: http://ftw.usatoday.com/2017/04/wnba-watch-me-work-draft-elena-delle-donne-maya-moore

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1,100 spread awareness for disabilities at LOGAN Nose-On

Courtesy of WNBU

Over 1,100 people showed up to this year’s LOGAN Nose-On luncheon. LOGAN Center hosts the annual event to raise awareness for people who have intellectual or developmental disabilities.

They only expected almost 1,000 people to show up, so having over 1,100 people is great for the center.

They also received a big check for $150,000 from the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, which is bound to help a lot of people.

But the big takeaway was what the keynote speaker, WNBA’s Elena Delle Donne, had to say.

Delle Donne knows the feeling all too well, being the little sister to someone who is blind and deaf.

“[A girl] was looking at my sister like she was a monster,” Delle Donne said. “And that’s something that stuck with me for my entire life.”

To Delle Donne, her sister was the complete opposite of a monster.

“Growing up with Lizzie was an absolute blessing,” Delle Donne said. “She taught me so many lessons that I don’t think I would have learned without having her as my older sister, like perspective.”

And it’s been a blessing for Lizzie being given equal support from her sister, because unfortunately, it’s a common thing for people with disabilities and their families to hear they can never do something again.

“Doctors said she would never be able to hold her head up on her own,” Delle Donne said. “She’ll never be able to walk. And she’s done all those things plus more.”

That’s something not too far off from what Janet Menting was told two years ago after getting into a bad car accident.

“They actually told me they’d never see me walk or talk or move my hands,” Menting said. “I have use of one hand.”

Menting actually spent 2 months in a coma after the accident. Two years later, after persisting and fighting for what she wanted, she’s surpassing those expectations.She’s working at the front desk at LOGAN now and she’s already made some huge improvements.

“At home, I go on walks every night,” Menting said. “I get up and run. And mom can’t keep up with me! Dad and mom are like ‘Janet! Slow down!'”

Both women want to spread a message of hope.

“I encourage a lot of people that are in a wheelchair to set their mind to stuff,” Menting said. “Not just give up on one thing.”

“Special needs individuals are an absolute joy and a gift to all of us and we’ve just got to continue to get them out in the community,” Delle Donne said.

There are still plenty of people out there who are looking for support and motivation. If you’d like to help out the cause, you can donate on LOGAN’s website at http://www.logancenter.org/donate/


Original Source: http://www.wndu.com/content/news/1100-spread-awareness-for–disabilities-at-LOGAN-Nose-On-416753613.html

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‘Hope to see you soon’: Mystics’ Elena Delle Donne shares letter from Joe Biden

Courtesy of The Washington Post:

Former vice president Joe Biden is already looking forward to making the 90-minute train ride from his home in Delaware to see former Delaware star and 2015 WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne play for the Mystics. Biden, who made the commute between Wilmington and D.C. on a nightly basis for 36 years while serving as senator of Delaware, sent Delle Donne a letter last month after the Mystics completed a blockbuster trade for the 2016 Olympian.

Delle Donne tweeted a photo of Biden’s typed letter, which came in an envelope labeled The Vice President, on Tuesday. It reads:


Dear Elena,
Congratulations on your recent move to the Washington Mystics! I look forward to watching you play here in the District. Washington is a great city, but the best part is that it’s only a short train ride from our home state of Delaware.

Best of luck as you transition to a new city and new team. Congrats again.


Joseph R. Biden Jr


View image on Twitter

View image on Twitter

“Hope to see you soon,” Biden wrote beneath his signature. “Proud of you — both your skill and your courage.”

Delle Donne originally committed to play college basketball at U-Conn. after a decorated high school career in Wilmington, but she transferred to Delaware before her freshman year to be closer to family. Delle Donne, who battles chronic Lyme disease, spent the first four years of her WNBA career in Chicago. It was no secret this offseason that she wanted a fresh start with a team closer to home.

Biden has followed Delle Donne’s career for years. He was in the crowd when Delle Donne and Delaware defeated North Carolina in the second round of the 2013 NCAA tournament, and he wished her luck at the Rio Olympics, where the U.S. women won gold last August. Biden’s first chance to see Delle Donne in a Mystics uniform during the regular season is May 14 at Verizon Center.


Original Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/dc-sports-bog/wp/2017/03/07/hope-to-see-you-soon-mystics-elena-delle-donne-shares-letter-from-joe-biden/?utm_term=.651e3eea03c4

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In Elena Delle Donne, the Washington Mystics Finally Have Their Star

Courtesy of WNBA:

September 26, 2012 was supposed to be the first day of a bright future for the Washington Mystics. After winning just five games earlier that summer, the Mystics had the best odds of getting the first pick in the loaded 2013 WNBA Draft, which featured Brittney Griner, Elena Delle Donne and Skylar Diggins — the so-called “Three to See” — as the top prospects. And with a 93.8 percent chance of walking away with at least a top three pick, the Mystics seemed on track to obtain their first superstar since Chamique Holdsclaw left the team in 2004.

Then, live on SportsCenter, the dream immediately turned into a nightmare. As then-president Laurel J. Richie began calling out the results, the Mystics were the first team to hear their name; they would be picking fourth a few months later at the 2013 WNBA Draft. No Griner. No Delle Donne. No Diggins.

That is, until two weeks ago, when the Mystics swung one of the biggest trades in WNBA history, acquiring Delle Donne in exchange for Stefanie Dolson, Kahleah Copper, and the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 WNBA Draft. “It’s taken four years to make it happen,” Mystics head coach and general manager Mike Thibault told WNBA.com after the deal was made official. “When she came out of the draft, we were trying to make a deal with Chicago to get her then.” Finally, after a circuitous route, the Washington Mystics have their star.

As is often the case with nightmares, the 2013 WNBA Draft wasn’t quite as bad as the Mystics might have imagined. With the No. 4 overall pick, they took Tayler Hill, who had a breakout season last year, averaging over 15 points per game, and looks to be a key part of their core moving forward. They also stole Emma Meesseman late in the second round, and the Belgian forward is now one of the league’s best young bigs.

That duo, combined with Delle Donne, now gives Washington arguably the most talented young core — all of them are 27 years old or younger — in the league. With those three leading the way, the Mystics have officially embarked on the next phase of their organizational journey. “We think we’re on the right path to having an elite organization at some point,” Thibault said. “It’s taken a few years to build where we’re going, and this [adding Delle Donne] is one of the big missing pieces to it.”

In existence since 1998, the Washington Mystics have been stuck in the middle of the pack. In 19 seasons, they’ve been to the playoffs nine times, but have won just one series — back in 2002. No Mystic has ever made an All-WNBA First Team, and just three players have made an All-WNBA second team: the aforementioned Holdsclaw, who did it three times, Alana Beard and Crystal Langhorne. With a dearth of playoff success and no superstars over the past decade-plus, the Mystics have long been overlooked. But there is nothing mediocre about Delle Donne (nor building a new arena, set to open in 2018).

Adding a former MVP and perhaps the best player the franchise has ever had, however, brings a set of expectations that will be unlike anything the Mystics have ever managed.

“The hardest thing is fans’ expectations right away are that automatically things are gonna work right. It doesn’t work like that,” Thibault said. “It takes time for players to get used to each other. We’ll have some bumps along the way in all of this, but the biggest thing is they keep their eye on the big picture of what we’re trying to accomplish. And the best way to do that is just get better every day — when you’re walking out of the gym, walking out better than when you walked in.”

The on-court cohesion should come sooner than later with the talented trio of Delle Donne, Meesseman and Hill joined by veteran guard Ivory Latta, newly acquired sharpshooter Kristi Toliver and returning center LaToya Sanders.

In Meesseman (1st), Delle Donne (3rd), and Toliver (4th), the Mystics now have three of the top four three-point shooters by percentage in the league last season. If you include Hill (17th) and Latta (30th), they have five of the top 30, giving Washington far and away the best outside shooting attack in the league.

But while the Mystics will be able to put five legitimate three-point threats on the floor, Thibault doesn’t want to become one-dimensional on offense, saying, “I don’t think we want to live or die with that [three-pointers].” With the versatility those players, have, that shouldn’t be too much of a worry. No matter the area of the floor, the Mystics are going to be a problem for opposing defenses.

“[Thibault] has said that we’re building a Golden State type of team, type of offense,” Toliver added. “And I wouldn’t want to play for any other style than that.”

Anchoring everything — the versatility on offense, the pressure and expectations, the new direction of the franchise — is Delle Donne, who is no stranger to those kind of things. For four years, she was the face of the Chicago Sky, helping the team to its first ever playoff apperance in her rookie season, then following that up by leading them on an improbable WNBA Finals run the next year. With Delle Donne powering the way forward — she had a usage percentage north of 25 percent in each of the last three years — the Sky went to the playoffs in all four of her seasons there.

But Thibault’s hope is the situation in Washington will be different. “They [Meesseman and company] will take some pressure off of her,” Thibault said. “A lot of times in Chicago, she was given the ball and they said, ‘Go make a play for us.’ She doesn’t have to do that every possession.”

Likewise, Delle Donne sees a bright future for her and her teammates once they get on the floor together.

“The basketball side of things is something I’m smiling the most about and am most excited about,” the 2015 MVP said. “Each time I listen to Coach Thibault speak about the team and what he thinks we can accomplish and do, it just gets me so excited to just get on court and start working with these awesome and talented teammates.”

With the arrival off Delle Donne, the Mystics have their long sought-after star, and the dynamic of the franchise has, at last, been transformed. Now, the Washington Mystics are part of the WNBA’s elite.


Original Source: http://www.wnba.com/news/elena-delle-donne-washington-mystics-trade-history/

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