Jenny McCarthy headlines Condors gala

By The Columbia Chronicle

Rob Steva

Sports Editor and

Jannan J. Khuri

Sports Correspondent

Who knew Chicago sports fans would have two professional basketball teams? Pending the settlement of the NBA lockout, the Chicago Bulls may be competing with women’s basketball fans this season. The Chicago Condors are the latest edition to the up and coming American Basketball League. The team recently held a public relations promotion at Planet Hollywood where actress Jenny McCarthy was named honorary captain. Her sister Joanne is a replacement player for the Condors.

Both Jenny and Joanne’s success can be traced back to their childhood where both supported each other and offered advice. “We were always there for each other, either at practices or auditions. We have always been supportive of each other,” said Jenny. Both girls agreed that they couldn’t have done it with out their mom. “We owe everything to our mom. She drove us to practices and did anything we asked of her. She is our care bear and we love her to death,” said Jenny. Despite her busy schedule, Jenny said she hopes to attend as many games as possible. “You can look for me. I will be the screaming psycho chick in the crowd. Maybe I can wear a Condor outfit and be the team mascot.”

The Condors open the season on Nov. 6 at the UIC Pavilion and will be televised on Dec. 13 and Jan. 1 on the FOX Sports Network. Cyn Hawkins, director of media relations, hopes that Chicago will come out to support the Condors the same way they support other local teams. “Chicagoans support their teams, good or bad. They’re going to be there [in attendance], which is what we are anicipating. On paper we have the bset team,” said Hawkins.

The team includes several Olympic gold medal winners, who have set records in both the ABL and WNBA, and a former NBA head coach. Jim Cleamons, former Chicago Bulls assistant coach and Dallas Mavericks head coach, looks to add his NBA experience to the mix. Cleamons joined the team as head coach on May 14 and feels that men’s basketball can be stereotypical in that there are few players that a team relies on to carry them. Cleamons hopes the Condors will be different: “I want a team-oriented basketball squad, where on any given night somebody else can be the major player on our team… I think in the next few years, women’s sports will make an even greater impact on the sports scene and continue to grow into the next millennium.” As far as the strategy of attack for the Condors, he hopes to have an offense that is generated through strong defensive play. “I would like to have a fast paced team that enjoys playing in the open floor,” said Cleamons. Cleamons added that the team will take time to gel and that the players who have more professional experience will need to help other young players make the transition to professional basketball.

One of the players who is expected to step up to assist with the less experienced players is 1984 Olympic Gold Medalist Cathy Boswell. She will play either guard or forward. “It’s kind of tough when your coming in a rookie and you don’t know what to expect… It’s another level of play. The biggest thing I tell them is to never lose confidence in themselves and when it seems like you don’t fit in just keep on hustling and playing hard because eventually you will make your mark,” said Boswell.

Boswell, who was originally drafted from the ABL’s Atlanta Glory and is a graduate of Illinois State University, feels that the team has been well received by Chicago, but feels as if the team needs a little more exposure. “A lot of people are still asking questions and confusing the two leagues, between ABL and the WNBA. You have to stop and explain, so I think in that aspect it needs a little bit more improvement,” said Boswell.

Another player who looks to supply an offensive punch is ‘6-4″ forward-center Yolanda Griffith, who was traded to Chicago from the ABL’s Long Beach Sting Rays. Griffith said that some of the challenges the team will face in their first game against the Nashville Noise include adjusting as a new team to a new environment, playing with one another and adjusting to playing in different positions. “We just have to adjust and get a lot of games under our belt and we’ll be okay,”added Griffith

Attendance growth is expected for the 1998-99 season after the ABL experienced a 23 percent increase between its first and second seasons. The Condors are in pursuit of a winning combination of staff, coaches and players that will carry them through a successful season and to victory in their first game against the Nashville Noise.

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