Delle Donne talks WNBA, Olympic future
Published: Monday, December 3, 2012
Updated: Monday, December 3, 2012 19:12
In November 2009, forward Elena Delle Donne started her first game as a Delaware women’s basketball player. Taking her freshman year off because she did not want to play, she returned, thanks to head coach Tina Martin not pressuring her to play again. Delle Donne and the Hens would get to the CAA Tournament semifinals that year.
Now, Delaware reached its first NCAA Tournament last year at the end of an undefeated season in CAA play, Delle Donne is currently a senior. Delle Donne will be looking toward her future in basketball at the end of this season. She said her and the team’s biggest impact at Delaware was helping get the sport of women’s basketball more recognition.
“It’s definitely not just me, it’s been myself and my teammates,” Delle Donne said. “Really getting women’s basketball into the national spotlight has been a big achievement, especially last year.”
Delle Donne is looking to play in the WNBA. Martin said the level of play in the WNBA is strong but Delle Donne’s versatility on the court will make her an asset to any team in the league.
The All-American said she is hoping to go to Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympics with the United States National Team, after helping the U.S team go 6-0 to win the gold medal in the 2011 World University Games. She said the WNBA is first on her to-do list.
“First thing is the WNBA draft and see where I go there,” she said. “If I do well in that career, then the USA basketball would fall into place, but I would have to take care of business in the WNBA first.”
The senior forward is a human services major, and wants to combine her playing career with her major. She said she wants to give back to her community by helping children and individuals with special needs.
It is no secret that Delle Donne is close to her family. However, the closest WNBA teams to Delaware are the Washington Mystics and the New York Liberty, which are not advantageous to staying in the Delaware area. Delle Donne said due to the season being played in the summer, getting to see her family will not be as difficult.
“The season’s in the summer, which gives my family a lot of time to travel and be able to come to some of my games,” she said. “It’s a little more flexible where I won’t be having class— all I am doing really is playing basketball and playing games with my team and stuff.”
This season has not been easy for Delle Donne, because she is currently battling Lyme disease. Delaware’s record is 3-2 (0-0 CAA) and Delle Donne has played in only one game, a 64-46 win over Providence College at home on Nov. 20.
Martin said Lyme disease is an energy issue for Delle Donne, and making sure she is at her best is the only way for her to be in top shape. Martin said the disease is a day-to-day process, and each day is different.
“Managing it throughout the year is something that we did before and now obviously we’ll try to do again, but it really comes down to Elena and what’s she feeling that day, and as I said, she goes through swings where she feels good for a couple of days and then she may feel bad for a couple of days,” she said.
One of Delle Donne’s oldest teammates is senior point guard Kayla Miller, who has played with her since the eighth grade. Miller was also a transfer to Delaware, having left George Washington University after the fall semester of her freshman year. Miller called Delle Donne and told her she had left and Delle Donne told Miller she was coming back to play again.
Playing with her since middle school, Miller said every year Delle Donne plays, she gets better. Miller said most people get to see the on-court side of Delle Donne, but that Elena has a different personality off the court.
“It’s crazy because most people don’t get to see like the warm side of Elena, because all they know is Elena the basketball player,” Miller said. “However, Elena has an awesome sense of humor and is a very fun person.”