JUST HOW IMPORTANT is the national spotlight when all you crave is another helping of Mom's homemade apple pie?

For Elena Delle Donne, it's a no-brainer.

Delle Donne, the Delaware native who was the most sought-after high school girls basketball player in the country last year, announced yesterday her intentions to play for the Blue Hens next season.

Now if you can recall, the 6-5 guard from Ursuline Academy was recruited to play for Geno Auriemma's Connecticut Huskies, but gave up her scholarship and transferred to Delaware - all in about a 48-hour time period of being on the UConn campus.

When asked her reasons for leaving the No. 1 women's college basketball program in the country, according to the Hartford Courant, Delle Donne, who also is an integral member of the Blue Hens' volleyball team, replied: "I guess if I were to sum the whole thing up, if I were to say what it is that I learned during the year, it's that I mistakenly put the blame for my feelings on basketball, when in reality it was homesickness . . . I was able to realize that Delaware was where I wanted to be. I love my home and I love the university. I'm thrilled to be here."

Catching some ZZZ

In case you hadn't noticed, the Phillies have three everyday players whose last names end in the letter "z," and all three are playing pretty well.

So - in our best imitation of colleague Ted Silary - we came up with . . . The Phillies All-Time "Last Name Ending in Z" Team:

C Carlos Ruiz

1B Tony Perez

2B Tomas Perez

3B Pedro Feliz

SS Steve Jeltz

LF Raul Ibanez

CF Willie Montanez

RF Tony Gonzalez

SP Bobby Shantz

RP Willie Hernandez

OK, maybe we missed somebody. (Ted, in fact, questioned Bobby Shantz, since he appeared in only 14 games during his one season as a Phillie. What does Sid Fernandez do for you, Ted?) Don't hesitate to send along your commentz. *

- Kerith Gabriel and Bob Vetrone Jr.