Last May, the Boston Globe ran a picture of K.C. Jones, legendary Celtic player and coach, carrying a box of his possessions out of the Celtics' offices.
His tenure with a team he had played on for nine years then had served as a head or assistant coach for 12 more seasons, was over.
One thing didn't add up, though.
Jones was wearing a big smile.
He apparently knew something very few others knew.
Less than 24 hours later, he was in Hartford, Conn., in the offices of the New England Blizzard of the American Basketball League.
He interviewed with the general manager, Pam Batalis, then met with three players, Jennifer Rizzotti, Kara Wolters and Carla Berube.
Jones, 6 feet 1, was startled when he was introduced to Wolters. He had to look up. She's 6-7.
Six months later, having passed muster with the three players and Batalis, Jones, 65, was recently telling the differences between the men's and women's games.
"Other than the obvious stuff like size and strength, I'd say the work ethic and the enthusiasm in the women's game are much better," he said.
"In practice, my players dive on the floor after loose balls. I never saw that in the NBA."
One Blizzard staff member recalls a beef Jones got into during training camp with Rizzotti and Carolyn Jones. Both players were limping because of hamstring pulls, yet insisted they were sound enough to practice.
"K.C. had to stop practice and order them off the court and they were furious," said team publicist Steve Raczynski.
Patience is the byword in the women's game, Jones said.
"The men's game is generally dribble, dribble, one or two passes, and a shot," he said. "Here, it's three to five passes, and a shot. It's a passing game, and I like that. That's my game.
"Another thing is confidence. Men have it, the women don't. I feel like I have to keep boosting my players' confidence. Carla Berube--she has no idea how talented she is. I have to draw it out of her.
"Same with Wolters. A 6-7 woman in this game is like having a 7-3 guy. She's slow, but so was Larry Bird. She has good feet and hands. Her upside is awesome. Yet she has very little confidence."
The StingRays have apparently bonded well with their coach, Maura McHugh, who was hired after she had taken a four-year hiatus from coaching college basketball.
Said leading scorer and rebounder Yolanda Griffith, "I came to this team from four years of pro ball in Germany, and I had the attitude that I knew a lot of stuff about this. But I've learned a lot from her."
Added Clarissa Davis-Wrightsil, "Coaching at this level, your players know Day 1 if you know what you're doing. She knows her stuff, we all agree."
McHugh, after 13 years at Oklahoma and Arizona State, left coaching for four years to run the Business Council for Alcohol Education in Phoenix.
Davis-Wrightsil, incidentally, has been reunited with her Texas teammate, Beverly Williams, for the first time since 1986, when Texas went 34-0 and won the NCAA title by beating Cheryl Miller-led USC.
Unforgivable: The Quest plays recorded applause at its games. . . . She's getting acclimated to Ivy League life and won't play until next year, but a year from now, Harvard's Gitika Srivastava, from India, will cast the longest shadow over U.S. women's hoops. She's 18--and 6-11. Said a Harvard spokesman, "She's not hard to find in Harvard Square."