Photo: Andrew McMurtrie
Maya Moore of the Minnesota Lynx drives the lane against Lindsey Harding of the Atlanta Dream Sunday at Phillips Arena in Atlanta. Moore, originally from Gwinnett was the number one draft pick for theUniversity of Connecticut to the Lynx.
ATLANTA -- Seven months after her first homecoming to Atlanta, WNBA rookie Maya Moore is still the toast of the town.
Like she did when she came back to town with the University of Connecticut Huskies in a game at Georgia Tech last November, the Minnesota Lynx forward and Collins Hill grad had much of the announced crowd of 7,274 at Philips Arena there to cheer her on during a 77-64 victory over the host Atlanta Dream on Sunday.
"It was a great day," Moore said. "The energy in the building was great. I saw a bunch of people I knew were there to support me. I'm just glad they were there to scream for my Lynx."
While it wasn't quite as dominant as Moore's first homecoming seven months ago, when she scored a game-high 30 points with eight rebounds in a UConn victory over Tech, her outing Sunday was another step up as she makes the transition from four-time college All-American to WNBA rookie -- albeit the No. 1 draft pick and one of the highest-profile rookies in league history.
Moore's numbers were solid as she finished with 12 points, eight rebounds, five assists and a blocked shot in just under 29 minutes on the court.
As with her previous homecoming at Tech, Moore got off to somewhat of a slow start Sunday, playing only just over four minutes in the first quarter and missing her first three shots from the field on her way to shooting just 33.3 percent (4 of 12) for the game.
"I was worried for Maya," said Minnesota head coach Cheryl Reeve. "I know a couple hundred (family and friends) were here. She was excited, and I think it showed."
However, as was also the case in November, she steadily began to settle down, finishing close to her season average of 14.2 points per game and exceeding her season norms for rebounds (4.4 rpg) and assists (2.6 apt).
And, of course, Moore still carries the rock star appeal she built up during her outstanding high school and college careers.
In addition to seeing dozens of players from her former AAU program, the Georgia Metros, sporting t-shirts with her name and familiar No. 23, in the crowd, more than 100 fans were waiting in the stands for her after the game for a meet and greet, with more fans waiting outside Philips Arena hoping for an autograph.
But after November's visit to town, Moore is a little less overwhelmed by the display of support, and was as focused on her play on the court and her development as a pro player as she was playing in front of the home folks.
"It's just a different feel (than in November)," Moore said. "I guess I don't get as much time to kind of interact and waive to the fans and appreciate them, (but) it was great.
"I just want to go out and make sure that I'm the person and the player my team wants me to be and needs me to be, ... making sure every time I'm on the court, I'm making something positive happen. ... I know there's going to be an adjustment period (to pro ball). I just want to be able to respond well and continue to learn quickly."