Lady Vols' Parker first woman to dunk twice in game

Updated: March 25, 2006, 1:14 AM ET
Associated Press

NORFOLK, Va. -- Tennessee's Candace Parker became the fourth woman to dunk in a college game -- and the first do it twice -- when the Lady Vols played Army in the first round of the NCAA tournament Sunday.

The first came when the 6-foot-4 redshirt freshman took an outlet pass from Sidney Spencer and jammed one-handed on a breakaway 6:12 into the game. With the large contingent of Tennessee fans roaring even before the attempt, Parker threw it down as Army's Margaree King looked on helplessly.

Later, with 14:18 to go in the second half, she was in the right corner and worked a give-and-go with Nicky Anosike, taking the return pass with a clear lane to dunk again.

The second one came even before a buzz of anticipation could start. Moments later, with Tennessee comfortably ahead, Parker came out with 13:42 remaining. She had 26 points, five rebounds and seven assists.

Parker showed her dunking skills several times during warmups, but had tried only one in college. Her attempt against Auburn came Feb. 23.

Parker joins Georgeann Wells of West Virginia in 1984, Charlotte Smith of North Carolina in 1994 and Michelle Snow of Tennessee in 2000 as college players to dunk in a game. Lisa Leslie of the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks has dunked as a pro.

Wells' first dunk was a one-handed slam off a fullcourt pass in 1984, and sparked a media frenzy. She did it again a few weeks later.

Snow dunked three times in 2000.

A sign of what's to come?

Coaches and players alike expect more dunks to follow, and soon.

"When you're out there in the summer in the AAUs and the circuits, we're seeing it more and more believe it or not,'' Washington coach June Daugherty said Sunday. "It's interesting to see the kids have become that athletic and that good with the basketball above the rim.''

Vanderbilt coach Melanie Balcomb would encourage any player she gets to dunk if she can. She credits girls receiving the same weight training as boys with improving skill levels at much younger ages these days.

"When I played, we weren't allowed to be in the weight room. That was for the guys,'' she said.

LSU coach Pokey Chatman, whose playing career ended in 1991, doubts she could play today. She said she would be lucky to be a walk-on, writing letters talking about her heart and her strong will, because she's seen surprising dunks from high school players.

"I remember watching a 5-8 kid dunk with power, and she's a 10th grader,'' Chatman said.

Asked if she was recruiting the girl, Chatman had a quick answer: "Can't comment on recruiting."

Memorial Gym, site of second-round tournament games Monday night, was the site of a dunk Jan. 23, 2001, by Michelle Snow of Tennessee against Vanderbilt. That angered fans of the Commodores who called it classless.

On Sunday, Vanderbilt junior Caroline Williams had only complements for Parker's dunks.

"You have to give it to her. She's a great player … and the second one I thought was pretty nice on a backdoor cut. Give it to her. Two dunks in a basketball game? That's awesome … That's all I've got to say,'' she said.

North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell said she arranged the second dunk in the women's game. She had been talking to coaches in 1994, trying to help set up Charlotte Smith's playing career beyond college and was told that she would be paid more if she dunked while still at North Carolina.

"So we set it up. Two days later, she dunked in a game. I set it up on purpose because I was trying to market my player,'' Hatchell said.

"Again, it's marketing our sport. Anything that can bring attention to the game, I'm all for. I think you're going to see more and more of it as athletes become stronger, faster and more skilled so that's great.''

There are players here that have the ability to dunk but haven't in a game yet. The LSU Lady Tigers regularly enjoy three variety of rim-shaking dunks by 6-foot-6 Sylvia Fowles, and senior Seimone Augustus calls them powerful dunks for a woman.

"When you see her come and do a reverse dunk from one side to the other and actually like hang off the rim, it's amazing," Augustus said. "And just to see her drop step and dunk, or catch it around the free throw line and one dribble, dunk and actually make the rim shake like a man, that's amazing."

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press