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Starzz ready to face old teammates

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Most of the Utah Starzz are probably looking forward to seeing former Starzz Debbie Black and Kristen Rasmussen tonight.

Dalma Ivanyi wants to see them and a whole lot more familiar faces as 12-11 Utah tries to keep its head above water in the Western Conference playoff race tonight at 5 MDT as it makes its first-ever visit to American Airlines Arena in Miami.

There the Starzz will meet for the first time the 8-14 Sol, record-wise the best of the four expansion teams this season thanks to Wednesday's 69-62 home win over expansion Portland. In that game, Rasmussen, a 6-foot-2 rookie post who was reluctantly waived by Utah four games into the season and picked up days later by Miami, scored a career-high 17 points.

"She just had a good game, so it should be interesting," said Ivanyi, adding that she and Black, last year's starting Starzz point guard, were good friends.

Black was picked by Miami in December's expansion draft. Another tie is that Starzz guard Kate Starbird was briefly a Sol player, taken in the expansion draft but immediately traded to Utah for Russian center Elena Baranova.

Baranova tore up a knee in April and is missing the entire WNBA season and perhaps the Olympics, too.

Now a backup to point guard Jennifer Azzi after starting 16 games, Ivanyi is also looking forward to playing at her home away from home, Miami.

The Hungarian played her college ball at Florida International in Miami.

"I feel good. I can't wait to see my friends from FIU," says Ivanyi, expecting many of her former teammates and coaches to be there along with a Hungarian family with whom she is friends.

But they probably won't see Ivanyi start or even play much. She has gotten a total of five minutes through the last three games.

But Ivanyi was expecting that. "I had prepared myself, even when (Azzi) was injured, to step down. If that's the way I can help my team, fine," Ivanyi says.

The Starzz, who lost at Phoenix Wednesday to break a three-game win streak, wish they still had Rasmussen, who was hard to give up because she had good potential and everybody liked her.

Utah is seeking a post player to fill in for Naomi Mulitauaopele, who will likely be put in the injured list with a knee bruise and stretched ligament.

The Starzz played Wednesday's game without forward Adrienne Goodson, whose Achilles problems flared up in the pregame warmup.

Her status is day-to-day and is iffy tonight.

Utah finishes its road trip Sunday afternoon at Orlando, at 14-8 the current leader of the Eastern Conference.

E-MAIL: lham@desnews.com