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Mavericks Provide Hoops Lessons

September 25, 2002

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DALLAS (AP) _ Melanie Johnson knows the difference between zone and man-to-man defenses.

She also knows that the Dallas Mavericks led the league in scoring last season.

But she didn’t know much else about basketball, until she attended a hoops crash course for women taught by the Mavs.

``Now I’m going to bring (my husband) to a Mavericks game and wow him with my new knowledge,″ she said, grinning. ``He’ll be very impressed.″

Johnson was one of about 200 women who was at American Airlines Center Monday evening for ``NBA Basketball 101 for Women,″ a female-only crash course in the fundamentals of professional hoops, created and presented by the Mavericks.

Other sports also offer special classes for women. Pro football offers NFL 101 workshops, where women learn about life in the league, the history of football, strategy and receive insider tours of the stadium and locker room.

Some baseball teams also offer programs for women. The Florida Marlins have the Marlins Senioritas program, which offers baseball chat sessions and round-table discussions featuring guest speakers along with Marlins staff members.

At the Mavericks course, the women eagerly gleaned the broad lessons team employees and players offered _ from the basics of offense and defense to officiating and nutrition.

``We love to get as many people as possible involved with the Mavs,″ team owner Mark Cuban told The Associated Press. ``One of the challenges is to bring in new Mavs fans, and sometimes people who aren’t familiar with the game want to get a head start before they go to their first game. We expose them to every part of the game, and no one leaves without a huge smile on their face.″

Among the highlights, Mavs center Raef LaFrentz and guard Adrian Griffin answered questions about life as a professional player. Trainer Roger Hinds showed the women the strength and conditioning facility, while nutritionist Tracy Siravo served samples of some of the players’ favorite raspberry smoothie.

While some came to learn about the game to impress the basketball fanatics in their lives, others came because they are basketball fans.

Fifteen-year-old Lauren White, who someday hopes to play in the WNBA, came to get a glimpse of the pros.

``She is a basketball enthusiast,″ said her father, Keith Meadows, one of the only men allowed to participate in the event to escort his daughter. ``Deep down she wants to play basketball and we thought this would be a good opportunity to expose her to the arena, the players and just the environment over all.″

Lauren, who played on her high school’s varsity team as a freshman, was impressed with what she saw.

``The locker room is awesome and everyone is so involved,″ she said. ``It’s not like high school where everyone is kinda, halfway involved and it’s not as serious. This is serious basketball and that’s what I love.″

Lauren was in the minority _ most of the attendees had plenty to learn.

``I think that there’s so much interest in the game of basketball, especially in Dallas, I think a lot of women might not understand what they’re watching as well as a lot of men who might be more sports fanatics,″ LaFrentz said. ``Some women just want to know a little bit more about referee calls or just anything about life as a basketball player.″

Ann Harris, wife of Mavs assistant coach Del Harris, told the women the difference between a screen defense and a trap play.

``I think this is a great idea,″ Ann Harris. ``I think it’s good that they’ll be able to bond a little better and take an interest in what the husband is doing.″

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