WNBA Opening Weekend Thoughts

May 22, 2012 12:05pm

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. 

After a short break, the next two games tipped off together as the Chicago Sky traveled to the nation’s capital to take on the Washington Mystics while the Indiana Fever hosted last year’s Eastern Conference champion Atlanta Dream, who defeated this same Fever team in 3 games in the EC Finals. The Sky and Mystics game started ugly as the teams combined for 15 1Q turnovers. Once the game settled down, Fowles asserted herself like the dominant player she is, while new addition Swin Cash and 2nd leading scorer from last season Epiphanny Prince showed why this year’s Sky team has high expectations contributing 30 points between themselves. While Trudi Lacey talked about changing the culture of this team with her additions of some more veteran players, this looked very much like last year’s version which makes me believe their ceiling is not very high.

Meanwhile for every turnover in Washington, there was a made 3pt basket by Indiana. The Fever started the game making everything in site before Atlanta had time to breath, including five 3pt FGs in the 1st quarter. Indiana looked like a team out for revenge after losing to Atlanta last season, up 1-0 in the EC Final series before Catchings got hurt in game 2. Despite a 15 point lead at halftime, Indiana allowed the talented Dream and Angel McCoughtry back in the game with their sloppy play in the 3rd quarter. Atlanta cut their lead to 2 before a flurry of points propelled Indiana into the final quarter and an eventual victory.

The final game of the day took place in Oklahoma as the Tulsa Shock hosted the San Antonio Silver Stars. While many expected an improved Tulsa team under new head coach Kloppenburg, they came out and matched the Silver Stars intensity and execution from the start. Latta and TJ were scoring and getting teammates involved, combining for 35 points and 13 assists. Meanwhile rookie Glory Johnson was creating offense for herself. She worked the paint and ended the game with 10 rebounds, 6 of the offensive variety. The one positive that the Silver Stars had all night was their pick n roll, as Becky Hammon made some brilliant passes on numerous occasions. Tulsa held their own all game by forcing turnovers and some timely 3pt shooting. In the end though the Silver Stars just executed a little bit better. Shameka Christon came off the bench to hit some huge 3pt shots, and Sophia Young made some tough baskets as you have come to expect from her.

Sunday featured the 2011 WNBA Champion Minnesota Lynx who received their championship hardware before the start of the game. A late scratch in Diana Taurasi suddenly made the task of a win in Minnesota much more daunting for the Phoenix Mercury. Despite their all-star not playing, the Mercury started the game well behind Charde Houston’s shooting. Rookie Samantha Prahalis helped push the pace and allow her team some easy transition baskets. Ultimately the depth and talent of the Lynx wore down the Mercury. 7 different players for the Lynx played at least 20 minutes, including another 10+ min for Peters and Adair.

The second game Sunday featured a rematch from Saturday as the New York Liberty and Connecticut Sun headed north to the Mohegan Sun Arena. Connecticut came out in the 1st quarter missing every shot in sight, but got to the free throw line enough to hang around. In the 2nd half, more of the same happened as the Sun’s depth and all around play slowly extended their lead. Tina Charles posted a 2nd double-double in two games, and the Sun looked as comfortable playing at home as they did last season.



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