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The Final Score Is Top Priority

WNBA: Cooper badly wants to entertain, saying, 'I'm looking for 100 points' in tonight's All-Star game.

July 15, 2002|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Michael Cooper knows exactly what he wants to see in the WNBA All-Star game--a lot of scoring.

"I'm looking for 100 points," the Western Conference All-Star coach said Sunday. "I'm going to tell the players, 'Let's move it up,' because I think it's great entertainment value for the league."

Cooper, coach of the Sparks--the WNBA's best team last season--will be trying to put on a show tonight for last season's most supportive fans.

The Washington Mystics, consistent losers until this season, drew an average of 15,280 fans last season--well over the league average of 8,416.

"You just don't expect that Washington and New York, with all the entertainment options in those cities, would be the top spots for supporting women's basketball," said Charlotte Coach Anne Donovan, coach of the East All-Stars.

Only New York, with an average crowd of 13,494, approaches the Mystics in terms of fan support.

Washington has been led by Chamique Holdsclaw, but fans of the Mystics won't get to see Holdsclaw play tonight because she has a sprained ankle.

With Holdsclaw out of the East's lineup, the star power at Sunday's practice sessions shifted even more dramatically to the Western Conference.

The East is led by starters Tamika Catchings of Indiana, Dawn Staley of Charlotte and Teresa Weatherspoon and Tari Phillips of New York.

The West has the Sparks' Lisa Leslie, Houston's Sheryl Swoopes and Tina Thompson, Sacramento's Ticha Penicheiro and Seattle rookie Sue Bird in the starting lineup.

Leslie dunked during the practice, something that has yet to occur in a WNBA game. Bird tried, and missed, a layup with her hand over her eyes, and 6-foot-5 forward Lauren Jackson of Seattle won $100 from Cooper for being the first to hit a half-court shot.

Bird--who went from playing in front of diehard fans at Connecticut to the Seattle Storm, which draws fewer than 6,000 fans per game--said WNBA fans are different from college supporters.

"In college, if you went to play Rutgers, the whole place would be cheering for Rutgers," she said. "In the WNBA, people have their favorite players, or they're just fans of the league in general."

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

WNBA All-Star Game

When: Tonight, 4:30

Where: Washington's MCI Center

TV: ESPN

West Roster

x-Sue Bird, G, Seattle

Tamecka Dixon, G, Sparks

Marie Ferdinand, G, Utah

Adrienne Goodson, F, Utah

Lauren Jackson, F, Seattle

x-Lisa Leslie, C, Sparks

Mwadi Mabika, F, Sparks

x-Ticha Penicheiro, G, Sacramento

Katie Smith, F, Minnesota

x-Sheryl Swoopes, F, Houston

x-Tina Thompson, F, Houston

Coach--Michael Cooper, Sparks

East Roster

x-Tamika Catchings, F, Indiana

z-Stacey Dales-Schuman, G, Wash.

x-y-Chamique Holdsclaw, F, Wash.

Shannon Johnson, G, Orlando

x-Tari Phillips, C, New York

Nykesha Sales, C, New York

Sheri Sam, F, Miami

x-Dawn Staley, G, Charlotte

Andrea Stinson, G, Charlotte

Tammy Sutton-Brown, C, Charlotte

Penny Taylor, F, Cleveland

x-Teresa Weatherspoon, G, New York

Coach--Anne Donovan, Charlotte

x-starters; y-injured; z-injury replacement

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