Los Angeles Sparks

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 »

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.

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The Los Angeles Sparks make the 2nd coaching change of the season

July 11, 2011 9:07am
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Sparks Vice President and General Manager Penny Toler announced Sunday that assistant coach Joe “Jellybean” Bryant, father of Lakers NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, will replace Jennifer Gillom as the coach of the Sparks. This is the 2nd coaching change this season as Tulsa replaced Nolan Richardson just days earlier.

“This was a very difficult decision, but I felt it was necessary to take the team in a different direction at this point in the season. Joe’s familiarity with the Sparks organization puts us in the best possible position to compete going forward, and should make for a seamless transition,” Toler said.

The Sparks started the season 4-1 before heading to San Antonio, where they fell in overtime after leading almost the entire game. They continued on their road trip to New York where Candace Parker got hurt in a 77-67 loss. Those two games have been part of the Sparks current 5 game losing streak.

“We respect Jennifer’s commitment to the Sparks and understand she has faced adversity with player injuries during her tenure.  That being said, with a short season and playing in the competitive Western Conference, winning games early in the year is critical and the Sparks’ goal remains to contend for a WNBA Championship.”

During their last 5 games the Sparks have lost by an average of 12 points per game and have surrendered almost 1.1 points per possession on defense, the worst of any team in the league over their last 5 games. Los Angeles heads to San Antonio where they fittingly started their 5 game slide with a new coach at the helm in Joe Bryant.

Is it too early to speculate on what could have been for Candace Parker?

July 1, 2011 2:10pm
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This is a very interesting article from Jeff Jacobs of the Hartford Courant about how Parker’s injuries might prevent fans from seeing how great of a career Candace Parker might potentially have. Everyone wants to project who is going to be the next great thing, and throughout her college career Parker showed us every reason why she has the chance to go down as the greatest women’s player. With her latest knee injury though, her body is denying herself a chance at a truly historic legacy.

Hoops Insider interview with Los Angeles Sparks assistant coach Sandy Brondello

June 1, 2011 6:02pm
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Entering her first year as an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Sparks, Coach Sandy Brondello brings with her a wealth of experience as both a player and coach as she begins her 12th year in the league. After serving the previous five seasons with San Antonio, including the most recent as head coach of the Silver Stars, Brondello now has the task of helping to lead the Los Angeles Sparks to a Western Conference championship. She recently spoke with Hoops Insider to share her thoughts about this year’s Sparks team.

On Coach Brondello’s first year with the Sparks and her impact

With this being my 12th year in the league and having experience as both a head coach and an assistant coach, I know a lot of the teams. I am an ex-player, so I can definitely relate to the players in that regard.  Jen (head coach Jennifer Gillom) has been great and has allowed both me and Joe (assistant coach Joe Bryant) to bring our strengths to the team.

On Candace Parker’s impact this season

I know this is the first time I have coached Candace, but some of the stuff she does I’ve really never seen a woman do. We just have to put her in the right spots to be successful. She is one of the best players and if we can keep her healthy she can have another MVP season.

On the current state of the point guard position

We’ve been happy so far. Ticha is the leader of this team on the court, and has such great experience. Natasha Lacy is a different player than Penicheiro, which is a good thing. She likes to have the ball in her hand, can get to the rim and be aggressive on the offensive end. She is quite tenacious on the defensive end and deserves a shot at that back-up point guard position.

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Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton traded to the Sky

June 1, 2011 5:17pm
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The Chicago Sky have acquired F Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton from the Los Angeles Sparks for a 2nd-round draft pick. Wisdom-Hylton returns home to Illinois where she played high school basketball and college in the Big-10 at the neighboring Purdue.

This deal makes a lot of sense for both parties involved. The Sparks already have great depth and talent in the front court where playing time was going to be difficult to come by for Lindsay while Chicago just lost F Shameka Christon for an extended period of time.

With Candace Parker only appearing in 10 games for the Sparks last season, Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton averaged 4.5 pts, 3.4 reb, in 15 min per game last season.

Weekend Preseason Recap

May 30, 2011 2:15pm
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Saturday, May 28th:

The Los Angeles Sparks defeated the Phoenix Mercury 83-72, in a preseason game played at The Pit in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The Sparks started the game well, leading 26-13 after the first quarter. “I’m very pleased with my team tonight” said Sparks head coach Jennifer Gillom, “I thought the energy was there, the aggressiveness was there, and tonight told me a lot.”

This game concludes the Sparks preseason, as they open up at home Friday, against the Minnesota Lynx at Staples Center. Phoenix travels to Seattle to face the defending champions on June 4th.

Sunday, May 29th:

The Atlanta Dream defeated  Great Britain 82-51, in the Dream’s only preseason game played in Manchester, England and the WNBA’s first game in Europe.

From James Bowman at Swish Appeal, “Coco Miller got off to a hot start in the first quarter, scoring seven of the first nine points for Atlanta and scoring 11 total first-quarter points.  (She would finish with 10-for-12 shooting and score 21 points.)  The Dream went to a double-digit lead early in the first quarter and never looked back.”

In the 3rd preseason game of the weekend the Seattle Storm defeated the Tulsa Shock 76-71.

After missing the game against Los Angeles, both Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird returned to the starting lineup as Seattle raced out to a 24-6 1st quarter lead and 45-25 halftime lead.

2nd overall pick Liz Cambage let her emotions get the best of her.  ”I was so nervous,” she said. “The first quarter I was so sick and had to run back and get it out of my system. But even getting off the plane yesterday, I was just so nervous going into training.”

Some additional thoughts from Jayda Evans’s in-game thread can be found here.

Hoops Insider pictures from the Sea/LA and Chi/Was Preseason games.

May 26, 2011 3:31pm
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Los Angeles and Seattle played Wednesday May 25th at the Torodome on the campus of Cal State Dominguez Hills in Carson, CA. The Sparks won 71-66.

Kids and fans packed the stands on both sides of the court for this preseason matchup.

Ashley Robinson with a layup as the Seattle Storm warm up after the halftime break.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Injury Report