At 7 feet 2, Margo Dydek came into the WNBA eight years ago as the No. 1 overall draft pick of the Utah Starzz.
But Dydek never quite lived up to the expectations for the tallest player in the league. Debbie Black, her teammate from the 1999 Starzz, said Dydek was never really happy.
That may have changed during Saturday's WNBA draft. The Connecticut Sun traded their first-round pick (eighth overall), Katie Feenstra, a 6-8 center from Liberty, and next year's top pick to the San Antonio Silver Stars for Dydek, who is hoping for a fresh start.
``I'm really excited,'' said Dydek, who is currently playing in Poland. ``It's a new chance for me, a new team. We're going to have a good team. I want to bring them even further.''
University of Minnesota center Janel McCarville was chosen as the No. 1 pick by the Charlotte Sting.
Sun coach Mike Thibault believes that Dydek, an intimidating defensive presence in the post, is the missing piece of the puzzle for his team, which lost to the Seattle Storm in the WNBA Finals last season.
``It was a tough call between a good young player and a very good veteran,'' Thibault said. ``The way it is, being close to a championship last year, we tried to picture that playoff series with Margo on the court with Taj [McWilliams-Franklin] and we kind of think that maybe the series would have had a little different outcome. I just think it puts us a closer to a chance to win a championship.''
The Sun also picked 19-year-old Australian Erin Phillips, a 5-7 guard, in the second round with the 21st pick. Megan Mahoney, a 6-foot guard/forward from Kansas State, was taken with the 29th pick in the third round. Mahoney ruptured her left Achilles' tendon in the Big 12 championship game against Baylor and will not play this season.
Thibault made those picks with an eye on the future. The Dydek trade was all about the present.
At 6-2, McWilliams-Franklin was often mismatched with bigger post players and expressed a desire to move back to her natural position at power forward. No other Sun post player was bigger than 6-2.
And a younger post player such as Feenstra would have taken time to develop.
``You have windows of opportunity to win championships,'' Thibault said. ``Not that we're an older team. But Taj, Nykesha [Sales], Katie [Douglas] have been in the league a little while.
``Feenstra would have contributed, but Margo changes the game. There is nobody like her. Teams have to adjust to us right now. And that's a nice thing to put in another team's head.''
Dydek, who turns 31 on April 28, has led the WNBA in blocked shots every season except 2004. She is the all-time league leader with 655.
Last season, the Silver Stars went 9-25. Dydek averaged 6.6 points and 4.9 rebounds, down from her career totals of 11 points and 6.8 rebounds.
``Yes, last year it was a strange season for me,'' said Dydek, who has been known to dunk in warmups. ``I was hoping to get some more chances and play with a good team and enjoy the game.''
Black, who retired last week, told Dydek she would have fun in Connecticut.
``I truly don't think Margo has been 100 percent happy playing basketball -- that's Debbie Black talking, not Margo -- here in the U.S.,'' Black said Saturday. ``People expect because she's 7-2, she should be doing this or that. When you're 7-2, nothing you do is good enough. After a while, you just turn it off.''
All Dydek needs to do for the Sun is play defense, Thibault said. If she has a good offensive game, that's fine, too.
``She wants to win a championship and fill a role on a team,'' he said. ``She makes us better defensively. We'll fit her in offensively. I surveyed a lot of veterans before we did this. She's a great teammate.
``When she gets a rebound, you don't take it away from her. She's a great outlet passer. I don't think teams will be as comfortable coming in the lane against us as maybe they have in the past. We've been one of the shortest teams in the league in the past. What we've done today is change the dynamics of the team.''
It's A Tall Order For Sun
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