Monthly Archives: June 2011

Erin Phillips: the forgotten Fever player

June 29, 2011 7:06am
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Prior to the start of the 2011 WNBA season, excitement was building in Feverland due to the acquisition of Australian national team guard Erin Phillips from Seattle for a third-round pick. She was heralded as a possible alternative to Briann January at the starting PG position due to her scoring ability, defensive prowess, and playmaking ability. Head coach Lin Dunn even compared her to former fan favorite Tully Bevilaqua, Phillips’ countrywoman.

Since then, however, the 26-year-old has seen her role on the team diminish, as marginal players like Shavonte Zellous and Shannon Bobbitt have seen their minutes increase. Phillips’ numbers are nothing to write home about (about 4ppg on 34% shooting), but those logging minutes ahead of her from the bench aren’t exactly setting the world on fire (Bobbitt, for example, is shooting 19% from the field). Phillips has expressed displeasure in the past with the Connecticut Sun WRT playing time. One has to wonder how long it will take before she does the same in Indiana–if she does the same in Indiana.

With Briann January likely out for some time due to a knee injury suffered during the 91-86 win over the Phoenix Mercury on June 28, the time is now for Phillips to prove she belongs back in the rotation. It took an injury to superstar Katie Douglas for Bobbitt to go from bench ornament to rotation-worthy, so perhaps the same can happen for Phillips.

Atlanta’s malaise

June 26, 2011 4:28pm
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The Atlanta Dream entered the 2011 WNBA season with championship aspirations. However, they are currently in last place in the Eastern Conference as of June 26 (latest loss coming at the hands of the red-hot San Antonio Silver Stars). The Dream have had its biggest issues in the backcourt, with starters Lindsey Harding (6.25 efficiency rating; 35% shooting from field) and Iziane Castro Marques (5.50 efficiency rating; 33% from field) both playing poorly. The continued absence of Sancho Lyttle (in Poland competing with the Spanish national team) has forced back-ups Sandora Irvin and Alison Bales into starting roles, where both have done rather poorly. On top of that, league superstar Angel McCoughtry has gotten off to a slow start this season due to injury and an undefined role. Head coach Marynell Meadors has to feel as though she woke up in the Twilight Zole because this is certainly not what she expected when she assembled this roster.

Chicago Sky guard Canty to miss at least three weeks

June 23, 2011 1:40pm
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Dominique Canty is undergoing surgery on her left knee according to Christopher Hine of the Chicago Tribune. Canty started the first game of season at PG for the Sky, but has since come off the bench.

“She is a valuable leader on the court, and our younger, more inexperienced players will need to mature quickly for us to compete against the best of the Eastern Conference”, said coach Chatman.

Expect Rookie Courtney Vandersloot to play more minutes with her back-up sidelined for at least three weeks.

Part 2: Thoughts and stats through the first two weeks of the WNBA season

June 23, 2011 11:59am
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PART 2 of 2

Part 2 of our quick takes and looks at some of the underlying stats for each team in the league.

 

New York: Between learning a new scheme under new head coach John Whisenant, and having Pondexter handle more of the point guard duties, the Liberty have gotten off to a slow start.  Don’t be surprised to see this white-line defense turn a corner, as Whiz’s Monarch teams were consistently among the league’s best defensively.

Did you know: New York has yet to keep an opponent under 100 efficiency for a single game. The Sparks scored over 1.18 points/possession in their latest outing.

 

Phoenix: With a healthy and rested Diana Taurasi, the Mercury looked to be a team that would run out of the gate to start the season. Combined with a difficult schedule and poor defending the Mercury lost their first 3 games, but have since gained some momentum with two straight wins.

Did you know: Not that it is anything new with the Mercury, but they they are the only team to score and allow more than 1.06 points/possession. With coach Gaines, a Westhead disciple, don’t except to see Phoenix stop flying up and down the court anytime soon.

 

San Antonio: With coach Hughes back on the sideline, and the emergence of rookie Danielle Adams, the Silver Stars are one of the early season surprises. They were the league’s only undefeated team before Tuesday, as they fell in their rematch with Phoenix, playing without star Sophia Young.

Did you know: The Silver Stars lead the league in offensive efficiency and are the only team to top 100 offensive efficiency in every game this season.

 

Seattle: With essentially the same team back from their 2010 championship season and the addition of Katie Smith, the Storm were expected to start right where they left off. Instead, the defending champs have started slow in part to Lauren Jackson, who is not 100% healthy. Despite injuries, they still stand at 3-2 and welcome Minnesota to the Key Arena for a 2nd time this season.

Did you know: Seattle has recorded the single worst offensive output in a game this season, where they scored only 50 points in approximatively 75 possessions in a loss to Los Angeles on June 19th.

 

Tulsa: After suffering two blowout losses at the hands of the Silver Stars, the Shock have since been more competitive although have only one win to show for it. 2nd overall pick, Liz Cambage has given Tulsa an inside presence, but they have suffered from lack of depth at the guard position after losing Amber Holt for an extended period of time.

Did you know: After Thursday’s game at home against New York, the Shock will have been the first team to play 8 games, with the latest three games played at home.

 

Washington: No team might have experienced more turnover during the offseason than the Mystics. They lost Smith, Harding, and then Currie to injury (and Beard has yet to play this season). They brought in Anosike and a new coach in Lacey Trudi. One constant from last season has been the continued great play of Langehorne. One constant from this season has been atrocious defense.

Did you know: The Mystics have the lowest scoring bench in the league at 12 pts per game. That is more than 9 pts below the league average.


New York Liberty line-up issues

June 23, 2011 9:47am
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Over on the Rebkell board, a hot topic of discussion involves Liberty fans’ dismay over the starting line-up. Losers of four straight games, the Liberty need to find themselves before digging a bigger hole. As one of the least talented teams in the WNBA, it is imperative that they utilize the best scoring combination from the onset to give themselves a better shot at winning games.

One of the biggest issues WRT the line-up is finding minutes for fourth-year guard Essence Carson. Carson, who is averaging 14.7ppg (second on the team) and is the team’s best perimeter defender. This, in all likelihood, makes her the second-best player on the team. Simply stated, she cannot continue to be brought off the bench in favor of one of two weak spots for NY–PG (Leilani Mitchell, who is a one-dimensional shooter with very little defensive ability) and SF (Nicole Powell, who, unlike Mitchell, isn’t even hitting shots and is even worse defensively). One of those players will have to be benched in favor of Carson if the Liberty are to compete in the East for a playoff spot. Because Cappie tends to play better when she’s not managing the offense and because Mitchell can actually hit shots (40% 3-point shooter this season), that leaves Powell as the odd (wo)man out.

Part 1: Thoughts and stats through the first two weeks of the WNBA season

June 20, 2011 5:35pm
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PART 1 of 2

We are now over two weeks into the WNBA season, with each team having played at least 4 games. Here is our quick take and a look at some of the underlying stats for each team.

 

Atlanta: The Dream, the consensus preseason pick for Eastern conference champions stand at 1-5, staring up at every team in the East. They have had a tough start to the season with an injured Angel McCoughtry and Sancho Lyttle leaving to Spain.

Did you know: The net plus/minus for the Dream’s point guards (thru June 14th only): Harding (-23.0) Lehning (+22.1)

 

Chicago: The Sky can already see a brighter future on the horizon with Coach Pokey Chatman now in charge and a positive 3-2 start. Top draft pick PG Courtney Vandersloot has already played her way into the starting lineup where I expect she’ll remain for the duration of season.

Did you know: The Chicago Sky have been your most “average” team through their first 5 games. They statistically fall just above or below average in just about every category, including possessions, offensive and defensive efficiency, points for and against, TO% and FTA %.

 

Connecticut: The Sun have come out blazing hot this season, helped in part by a healthy Ajsha Jones and the newly named player of the week Tina Charles. Even without Kara Lawson, the Sun were able to get a big road win at Washington last week, as victories away from the Mohegan Sun have been tough to come by in the past two seasons.

Did you know: The Sun have done the best job in the league at keeping the ball on offense which in turn leads to field goal and free throw attempts. They have only turned the ball over 16.4% of the time.

 

Indiana: The Fever are in the midst of a tough road trip losing at Seattle, and losing at Phoenix in overtime. Indiana also lost Katie Douglas for most of the Phoenix  game as she went down with an injury in the 1st quarter.

Did you know: The Fever lead the league at getting to the line. The shoot free throws on over 28% of their possessions.

 

Los Angeles: The Sparks are healthy and deep this season as Candace Parker and Co. have raced out to an impressive 3-1 start. Their strong start is even more impressive as they have defeated the two Western conference finalists from a season ago in Phoenix and Seattle and given league leading  Minnesota (5 wins) it’s only loss of the season.

Did you know: The Sparks’ scoring has been very balanced. They currently have 4 players averaging double figures and another two with at least 7 pts/game.

 

Minnesota: What a difference a year makes for the Lynx. Getting back key players healthy in Augustus and Wiggins, a veteran addition in Taj McWilliams-Franklin, and the top pick overall in Maya Moore have led the Lynx to a league high 5 wins through their first six games.

Did you know: The Lynx starting five boasts the best net plus/minus in the league as well as the highest individual net plus/minus player in McWilliams-Franklin. (thru June 14th)

 

Despite the win, Tulsa’s still got issues

June 19, 2011 9:30am
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Despite last night’s 77-59 win over the Washington Mystics, the issues that have plagued the Shock this season (and for the past couple of seasons, actually) still showed up in the win. Tulsa’s issues are as follows: their best performer right now (Ivory Latta) is the starting PG. However, their franchise player is a 19-year-old 6-8 traditional post. ESPN.com’s women’s basketball analyst Mechelle Voepel discussed this issue in a recent chat. Her thoughts are in accord with what many others think WRT Tulsa’s issues this season. Tulsa is a point guard short. Latta is doing what she can to lead the team and does well as a scorer, but the team needs someone who comes off the bench who is the exact opposite–someone who can run some semblance of an offense. Andrea Riley is not that player. Unless Tulsa figures this out soon, their one win will serve as their only win for the next month.

Sancho Lyttle to participate in Eurobasket

June 17, 2011 4:30pm
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According to blogger Richard Cohen, Sancho Lyttle is already in Poland preparing for the 2011 Eurobasket tournament with the Spanish national team. The 6-4 star PF is expected to miss at least six games for the Dream. During that stretch, the Dream will play Minnesota twice, New York, Chicago, Phoenix, and San Antonio. Other than Phoenix (0-2), every other team is at 0.500 or better on the season

Fever/Storm game full of connections

June 17, 2011 3:58pm
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If you’re tuning in tonight to the Indiana Fever/Seattle Storm tonight, you’re going to see more than a possible 2011 WNBA Finals preview. What you’re going to see are a multitude of connections between the two teams.

Connection #1: Seattle’s Lauren Jackson and Belinda Snell, along with Indiana’s Erin Phillips, are three members of the Australian women’s basketball national team (Opals). In fact, Phillips originally signed with Seattle this past February but was traded to Indiana as part of the deal to acquire Katie Smith.

Connection #2: Seattle’s Ashley Robinson and Indiana’s Tamika Catchings, Shyra Ely, and Shannon Bobbitt are all former Tennessee Lady Vols. Catchings and Robinson were teammates for a year (2001) while Robinson and Ely were teammates for three years (2002-04).

Connection #3: Indiana Fever head coach Lin Dunn was the first coach/GM of the Seattle Storm. Two of her draftees are playing in tonight’s game, and you might have heard of them (2001: Lauren Jackson and 2002: Sue Bird, both #1 overall picks).

Connection #4: Indiana’s Briann January is a native of the state of Washington. She was born in Spokane.

Kara Lawson not playing tonight for the Connecticut Sun

June 16, 2011 4:26pm
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Kara Lawson will not be in uniform for the Sun tonight. According to the broadcast team she injured an ankle in practice and it was determined she would not be able to go tonight. Hightower has started in her place.

Injury Report