Monthly Archives: May 2012

Reviewing Week 2 in the WNBA

May 30, 2012 12:44pm
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Recapping the 9 games played since last Thursday as we extract a statistic or two from each game. Every team has now played at least two games. 3 teams remain undefeated in Minnesota, Indiana and Connecticut. Seattle, Tulsa and New York are still searching for their first victory.

Thursday May 24th:

Minnesota 92 – Los Angeles 84: 17 fast-break points for the Sparks, but only 1 FGA in the 4th quarter for Candace Parker (0 pts)

The Sparks led by 4 heading into the 4th quarter looking to hand the defending WNBA champions their first loss of the season.  LA’s ability to force turnovers and turn them into 17 fast-break points had given them a chance for a huge road win. In the 4th quarter, the Lynx turned their game up another level, as they kept turnovers to a minimum and the ball out of CP3′s hands outscoring the Sparks by 12.

Friday May 25th:

Connecticut 83 – San Antonio 79:  Game-high 23 points for Renee Montgomery, on 8-16 shooting.

Much was made about Montgomery’s move to the bench this season. She didn’t seem to take the news well, but maybe coach Mike Thibault is pulling the right strings. She came off the bench and generated some easy baskets for herself with her off the ball movement and use of screens. In addition to her efficient 8-16 shooting, Montgomery went 2-5 from 3pt, 5-6 from the free throw line.

Atlanta 100 – New York 74: 100 points on 88 Atlanta Dream possessions

Ask coach John Whisenant before the game if his team was going to win a game where Atlanta had 88 possessions and he would have told you his team didn’t have the legs for such a track meet. It was clear from the start that the Dream were going to have an easy time scoring as they played at a very high tempo. They finished with 46 points in the paint, in addition to 26 fast break points. Read more »

Sparks Guard Sharnee Zoll done for the year

May 23, 2012 3:31pm
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The Los Angeles Sparks have just announced that Guard Sharnee Zoll will be done for the remainder of the season with a tear in her ACL. 

“It’s unfortunate that Sharnee won’t be able to play this season,” Sparks Vice President and General Manager Penny Toler said. “Up until her injury, she was playing really well. We look forward to seeing what she can do next season.”

After a great season in Europe many speculated Zoll would compete for and possibly earn the starting point guard position. After not appearing for the Sparks in their season opener at Seattle, the status of Zoll became unknown. In her place has been Kristi Toliver who has lit up the Storm from the perimeter in 2 straight games, going 9-13 from behind the arc. While the Sparks have to be excited about a 2-0 start, this season ending injury is certainly a blow, as Zoll could have been a major contributor to the Sparks backcourt.

WNBA Opening Weekend Thoughts

May 22, 2012 12:05pm
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The 2012 season is officially underway as there were 7 games this weekend. This also means the Minnesota Lynx have started their road to repeat as WNBA Champions.

It all started Friday night in Key Arena, home to the Seattle Storm and one of the league’s best home courts. Here was a team, partly in transition, after they sent Cash and Willingham to Chicago for their 2nd pick in this year’s draft. A still veteran team though, that added all time leading scorer Tina Thompson and great Euroleague big Ann Wauters, Seattle was hoping to maintain their high expectations. Hosting the Los Angeles Sparks under new coach Carol Ross, LA was hoping to turn around their disappointing results in recent seasons. The Storm came out on fire, getting Wauters a ton of easy post touches. While TT drained her NBA range 3′s, the Sparks were settling for and missing a series of mid-range jumpers. As the game wore on it seemed the Sparks had enough to get back into the game, but were suddenly staring at a 21 point deficit late in the 3rd quarter. Lots of ball pressure from the Sparks led to some Seattle TOs and easy run-outs, a barrage of 3′s from Toliver and some key baskets from Parker sent LA on a massive run which tied up the game late in the 4th and continued through, to the final buzzer.

Saturday’s card had 4 games on tap. It started early as the New York Liberty hosted the Connecticut Sun at the MSG. The Liberty enjoyed an 8 point halftime lead, due in part to the time they spent at the free throw line. Despite still trailing by 7 entering the 4th quarter, the Sun scored 27 points in the final period, capitalizing on a fatigued Liberty team who couldn’t execute on offense or get the necessary stops on defense.  Read more »

Interview: Silver Stars preview with STL and HFH from SS Nation

May 22, 2012 10:00am
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Hot For Hammon (HFH) and STL are the owners of Silver Stars Nation and once again took the time to share their thoughts about the upcoming Silver Stars season.  The Silver Stars Nation forum has evolved into a site where you can find live chats during SASS games, an active message board, and interviews with Silver Stars players, coaches, and staff.

The Silver Stars started the season with a 88-79 win over the Tulsa Shock at the BOK Center in Tulsa, led by Sophia Young’s 20 points, Becky Hammon’s 9 assists, and some crucial 3-pt field goals from Shameka Christon off the bench.

How much improvement might we see from 2nd year players Danielle Robinson and Danielle Adams? I imagine this could be a year they both take a big leap forward.

STL – I think that DRob still needs to settle down some, she is so fast but also a little out of control. The pre-season game against Indy she had 4 PF’s and 7 TO’s… she can’t give up 7 TO’s in the regular season PLUS 4 PF’s and only contribute 4 points. With DA the key is keeping that foot healthy. She had issues last season with it and off and on her entire Euro season in Italy. So if she stays healthy I see no reason why she wouldn’t pick up where she left off.

HFH – From Robinson I’m hoping we some development in her court vision. She plays at such fast pace I think she needs to learn to slow down and take the time to see the entire court and use her peripheral vision. Last season she tended to only see what was in front of her and missed opportunities for a better play. I think/hope for some development in that aspect of her game. What I am hoping to see from Adams is her picking up where she left off. She showed she was capable both in the post and on the perimeter and she doesn’t lack confidence. I’d like to see some improvement in shot selection. And I hope to see improvement/dedication to her body. She is going to have to make some changes if she wants to avoid injury and last a full season. Read more »

Interview: Phoenix Mercury preview with SB Nation’s Kristofer Habbas

May 17, 2012 3:02pm
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Kristofer Habbas covers the Phoenix Mercury for SB Nation Arizona. He has been covering basketball for the past few years with Dime Magazine and shared his thoughts on Coach Corey Gaines’ fast-paced team from the Valley of the Sun. In his SB Nation season preview, Kristofer discusses how this year’s Mercury team, “with plenty of talent and new faces… will be one of the most interesting years in franchise history.”

Discuss the state of this offense without all-star Penny Taylor this season:

Offensively this team is going to struggle to replace Penny Taylor. They brought in Charde Houston to help some on the wing, but they have very little interior scoring with the current roster.  Alexis Gray-Lawson, and Houston will be adequate scorers on the perimeter to compliment Diana Taurasi. Plenty of options on the perimeter for scorers. The interior is another question, and the roster is not set yet to determine what options they will have down there.

What kind of impact can rookie Samantha Prahalis make? Do you think she can handle the PG position for an entire game?

Samantha Prahalis is a very talented passer and is gifted in the way she sees the floor, especially in transition. The running style of the Mercury will help her a lot in the transition from college to the WNBA. Her clear lack of strength will be a challenge for Coach Gaines to keep her on the floor. She was the smallest player on the court in the teams scrimmage against the Japanese National Team, and by a lot. With Gray-Lawson, and even the injured Alexis Hornbuckle on the team Prahalis will not need to play like an All-WNBA player this year.

Any players that will surprise this year or you expect improvement from?

Alexis Gray-Lawson will have a terrific year in the place of Penny Taylor. She is a scoring guard with great natural instincts. A lot of pressure can be taken off Diana Taurasi if she takes her game to the next level. Her scoring will allow Taurasi to be a play-maker at times and even run the point at times. Look for Gray-Lawson to make an impact as a scorer and potentially even a starter for this team.

Coach Gaines talked about wanting his team to push the pace even more after their first preseason game. Might we see an even faster paced Mercury team this season?

This team will run a lot this year – out of necessity. As mentioned a few times before this is not a big, talented team. Arguably the four to five best players on this team are perimeter oriented. Look for the Mercury to run and run often, which will highlight the team’s best assets, their guards.

 

Top 6 2012 Draft Class preseason update

May 15, 2012 12:35pm
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Pick 2012 WNBA DRAFT – ROUND 1
1 Los Angeles — Nnemkadi Ogwumike
2 Seattle — Shekinna Stricklen
3 Minnesota — Devereaux Peters
4 Tulsa — Glory Johnson
5 San Antonio — Shenise Johnson
6 Phoenix — Samantha Prahalis

A quick update on top 6 draft picks in this year’s 2012 WNBA draft and how they might factor into their respective teams this season.

1. Nnemkadi Ogwumike: The consensus top player on every team’s draft board moves down the California coast from Silicon Valley to Hollywood. Although WNBA training camps are brief, Candace Parker has already declared Ogwumike “one of the most athletic players I’ve played with or against in my entire career.” After the Sparks preseason game against Japan coach Carol Ross said, “Nneka is playing with a lot of energy and really uses her athleticism. She brings a real spark to the team.” This new Spark has now lead them in scoring in 2 of their 3 preseason games and logged the most game minutes. If she’s not starting by mid season I’d still imagine Ogwumike logging starters minutes and being on the floor in crunch time very early in the season.

2. Shekinna Stricklen: After missing the Storm’s first preseason game due to her commencement ceremony at the University of Tennesee, Stricklen came back to score a game high 15 points and play a game high 30 min in the Storm’s win over Los Angeles in their 2nd preseason game. While Stricklen won’t have the impact of Ogwumike, she will be expected to contribute right away with a very different Seattle roster this season. Don’t count out what playing for coach Brian Agler and with PG Sue Bird can do for a young player like Stricklen. Read more »

Interview: Los Angeles Sparks preview with WNBA writer Sue Favor

May 13, 2012 1:43pm
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Sue Favor covers the Los Angeles Sparks as a media member. According to her blog They’re Playing Basketball she was “a founding fan of the Seattle Storm” and follows “the Lady Vols like a cult member.” Her outstanding work can be found on such websites as Sports Illustrated, Hoopfeed and Full Court. You can also follow her on Twitter @hoopism.

Sue was kind enough to share her thoughts and insights on what should be a new look Los Angeles Sparks team this season.

How do you think the chemistry of the Sparks will be early on with a new coach and so many new faces on the roster?

Carol Ross told me Wednesday (http://www.hoopfeed.com/content/2012/05/09/los-angeles-sparks-working-on-defense-as-roster-shapes-up-ross-makes-cuts/) that the team is still finding its identity. She has set the tone with her insistence on aggressive play and urgency every time an athlete hits the court, to the point where players are repeating her words in interviews. She’s got the team on the same page. Then the veterans set the tone on the first day by welcoming the rookies and giving them tips. The Sparks have got a huge head start on building chemistry this season, and in both exhibition games they’ve had so far, whomever is on the floor together is operating as unit.

What style of play will we see from the Sparks under new coach Carol Ross? 

Ross is very technical, and is a true teacher in practice. She also expects athletes to play very hard and never take a possession off. Both she and Sparks players keep mentioning the word “aggressive,” which is how they are playing their first two weeks. Ross’ third main emphasis is defense. She especially wants to bring sound defense to the Sparks, because she said they’ve been lacking it for a long time.

Read more »

Interview: The Examiner’s Mike Peden previews the returning champion Minnesota Lynx

May 12, 2012 8:46am
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Mike Peden covers the Minnesota Lynx for the St. Paul Examiner. Mike is a writer and video producer for TSB Sports and contributes written and digital stories in all levels of sports. His beats include the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx, the University of Minnesota Golden Gopher women’s basketball team and Twin Cities area high school webcasts. Make sure you head over to his YouTube channel where Mike has uploaded a ton of great interviews from Lynx Media Day. You can also find him on Twitter @thesportsbrain

Mike shared his insight with us on the Minnesota Lynx, and their high expectations this season.

With essentially the same roster coming back, after a year in which they won the title, is there anything different that stands about this year’s team heading into the season?

One preseason game and training camp isn’t enough to fully evaluate differences to last year, but you’re seeing a valiant effort from Minnesota’s bench players, almost as if they’re addressing rumors about chemistry and emotion before they ever begin. Many reporters, local and national, have noted how the second-string players could make a legitimate starting five on another franchise, and much discussion floated around whether Candice Wiggins would take her talents to another team where more exposure could be offered. Instead, Candice talked about how grateful she felt that Minnesota wanted her back, a feeling that echoed throughout the league as no opposing team even made an offer for her. Wiggins is on a mission to signal unity and good spirits with the reserves, hoping the term “Bench Mob” will catch on with Lynx followers on Twitter. So far, the effort to subdue any thoughts of egos overflowing is the major difference between this year and last year as they continue to navigate unfamiliar territory.

Recently, Coach Cheryl Reeve talked about her high hopes for Maya Moore. What do you expect to see in her 2nd season?

Maya Moore’s rookie season could be considered “average” statistically, but even when she didn’t do well, her presence benefited Minnesota. Moore was fifth in the WNBA last year in the overall plus/minus rating with a +12.1. The WNBA preview mentioned Moore fighting minor injuries with her legs in 2011, but if there is a second-year leap for the UConn prodigy, look out. Barring something fishy, I don’t believe we’re going to see Maya get another goose egg on the stat sheet in a game like she did against San Antonio in the regular season. Consistency is the biggest hurdle she needs to clear.

 

Read more »

Minnesota’s final roster suddenly not so final

May 11, 2012 8:56am
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Heading into training camps, the Minnesota Lynx were one of the teams with a roster pretty set in stone. They would keep their top draft pick Peters, add their veteran signing in Thorn and say goodbye to everyone else. That is until last night’s preseason win over the Connecticut Sun, where Amber Harris suffered a potentially serious ankle injury. Combine that with some inspired play from rookie Julie Wojta, in both tonight’s game and throughout training camp, and suddenly this Lynx roster might not be set. Many have speculated that Julie Wojta would probably land with another WNBA team if she did not make the Lynx, but Harris’ injury last night makes earning a roster spot with Minnesota a greater possibility now.

Mike Peden from the St. Paul Sports Examiner discusses this developing situation further. “Determining who will make the final roster for the Minnesota Lynx is no longer considered a cinch… Wojta’s inevitable conversion from power forward to small forward may tilt the argument to Harris, but with three Minnesota players participating in the Olympic Games in London this summer, a shorthanded roster to start the season could risk exhausting energy too early.”

A candid Trudi Lacey discusses tonight’s preseason game

May 10, 2012 2:13pm
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Washington Mystic’s head coach Trudi Lacey discusses tonight’s preseason game against the Chicago Sky. “We got a couple things, under our belt, that we’re going to try. We really want to perfect our team defense, so that will be a point of emphasis.”

The Washington Mystics have undergone quite a change in personnel this off-season. They will be one of the more interesting teams to follow early in the year.

Injury Report