WNBA Today, 06/19/2011: Mystics are Shocking

Just the one WNBA game last night, and that was unfortunate. Because this was one I could’ve happily glossed over if there were any other games to pay attention to. Nevertheless, Tulsa fans will be delirious at getting off the schneid with a home win over Washington, and they didn’t even have to bite their fingernails as the minutes ran down. Mystics supporters, on the other hand, probably won’t be reading this. They’ll be trying to forget.

We’ll all happily forget the first half. WNBA.com’s LiveAccess was on the fritz, but the game was hideous anyway so I doubt they got too many complaints. 11-10 Shock at the end of the first quarter due to an assortment of turnovers and bricks from both teams, the game was virtually unwatchable whether you had a smooth video feed or not. In roster news, Liz Cambage was back from her concussion for the Shock, although she came off the bench and only played 16 minutes in the game, so she may not be quite all the way back. For Washington, Ta’Shia Phillips eventually entered the game, which means emergency replacement Kerri Gardin must’ve been released. Not that anyone on the Mystics bothered to inform the public. Still no Alana Beard.

Finally managing some decent ball movement, Tulsa put together a nice little run behind a Kayla Pedersen three and a couple of Jen Lacy layups to take a six-point lead early in the second quarter. Then the Mystics woke up for about six minutes of game time, pretty much the only period where they weren’t slumbering all evening. Continue reading

WNBA Today, 06/18/2011: Four times the Fun

Four games last night, and the first to tip off was one of two that turned out to be somewhat competitive, with the shorthanded Dream travelling to Minnesota. With Sancho Lyttle off playing for Spain for the next couple of weeks, everyone and their dog was predicting yet another big game for Rebekkah Brunson, and we weren’t to be disappointed. Atlanta went big to start, replacing Lyttle with 6-7 behemoth Alison Bales, and it was reasonably successful for a while – but it didn’t last. A fun back-and-forth first half between two teams that are happy to push the tempo ended up 39 apiece, but in the third quarter the Lynx made their move. With Whalen pulling the strings and Brunson racking up the rebounds, Minnesota went from 43-41 down to a 54-43 lead in the blink of an eye. Brunson made a couple of typically athletic plays, Augustus hit a pretty jumper, Whalen dropped in a couple of buckets and Maya Moore had a steal that led straight into a breakaway layup. That’s the scary thing about this Lynx team – they can hurt you from essentially any spot on the floor. Even when they go to the bench, you’ve got the likes of Candice Wiggins and Monica Wright coming in, but it’s that Whalen/Augustus/Moore/Brunson/Taj starting lineup that’s doing most of the damage. Stop one or two pieces, and they’ll just come at you from another angle.

Continue reading

WNBA Today, 06/17/2011: Out of the Zone

“Too. Much. Charles. And a complete Mystical inability to penetrate a 2-3 zone. There’s your game.” As a late-adopter, I’m still getting into this whole twitter thing, but when there’s one game all evening, and you really can sum it up in 140 characters, I just felt like I might as well say it. That really was about it for Connecticut’s win in Washington last night, except that it somewhat short-changes Renee Montgomery, who had another nice offensive game. But if you’re reading this, you probably want to hear at least a little more.

While Washington were still missing Alana Beard and Ta’Shia Phillips, the early news wasn’t good for Connecticut either. Starting off-guard (and ‘backup’ point guard) Kara Lawson was a late scratch due to a sprained ankle suffered the previous day in practice, leaving Allison Hightower – who didn’t even play in two of the Sun’s previous three games – to start in her place. You might’ve expected the absence of Lawson’s steadying hand to negatively affect Connecticut’s offense, but through the first 15 minutes of the game the Sun’s offense was almost irrelevant. Continue reading

WNBA Today, 06/16/2011: Wild and Wonderful Possibilities for a Tulsa Roster Spot

So here’s the thing. If you’re a dedicated enough follower of the WNBA to be reading this, there’s a decent chance that you already know who Tulsa are adding to their roster to replace Miranda Ayim, waived yesterday. But I’d already written half of this before the news emerged. So I’m going to post it anyway, in the hope that it might offer a little light entertainment, even if the factual value has rather disappeared. Plus there’ll probably be another roster spot open in Tulsa soon, anyway.

The real answer is revealed at the end, by the way.

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When Miranda Ayim was waived yesterday by the Tulsa Shock, it was hardly a surprise. They’ve only played five games, but Ayim didn’t even make it off the bench in the last two, which tends to be a Nolan Richardson sign of impending release. Inevitably, fans immediately began speculating about who might replace her, and let’s face it, I’m not immune to a little speculation myself. So here they are, the numerous possibilities for that 11th spot on the roster of the worst team in the WNBA. Some serious, some just a little tongue-in-cheek.


The Guards

Tulsa only have three guards on their roster. One is Ivory Latta, who’s at least proven that she belongs somewhere in this league by now; and the other two are Andrea Riley and Marion Jones, who haven’t. Amber Holt, barely a small forward after playing her whole college career at the 4, was starting as a pseudo-guard before breaking her thumb, leaving their ‘guard’ options even shorter. So you could understand why a lot of the names being thrown around were little people who might help them around the perimeter.


Betty Lennox

Gunning scorer cut by Tulsa the day before the regular season started, reportedly injured, and possibly retiring. But this is Nolan Richardson we’re talking about. And Betty knows basketball.

Chances: Poor. Even Nolan seems unlikely to bring back someone he waived barely two weeks ago. Continue reading

WNBA Today, 06/15/2011: Lucky Fever (and Dream stuff Libs)

Okay, hands up anyone who thought Tulsa in Indiana was going to be the competitive WNBA game last night. Yeah, that’s what I thought. The Shock showed up to play the Fever with their prized rookie center Liz Cambage in street clothes, shielding her eyes from the bright arena lights. Guess that concussion she received at the hand of teammate Tiffany Jackson on Sunday was a little more serious that it may have initially appeared. Yet despite Cambage’s restriction to cheerleading duties, this one was tight all night long and actually provided some decent entertainment for the watching public on ESPN2. As for the people who searched out the Atlanta-New York game online and the dozen or so that appeared to be in the Prudential Center in New Jersey, well, they probably wished they’d watched the other game.

Cambage’s injury meant Tulsa’s fourth different starting lineup in their first five games, with Jackson, Jen Lacy and Kayla Pedersen making up the frontcourt. Your guess as to who the small forward, power forward and center were in that lineup is as good as mine – whether you saw the game or not. Continue reading

Your WNBA Questions Answered, 06/14/2011

Thanks for the questions everyone submitted. This will be a recurring feature, so feel free to leave any more queries you have in the comments below or drop me a line via email or tweet.

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Q. How well would a team made entirely of top Europeans (i.e. Dumerc, Palau, Cohen, Jekabsone, Bibrzycka, Torrens, Viteckova, Gruda, Stepanova, Yilmaz, Verameyenka) fare in the WNBA? (Anon)

A. This question came from someone called Name, with the email address of randomletters@thatresembleemailaddress.com. I have an inkling that those might just be fake, but I like the question so much that I’m going to answer it anyway. Continue reading

WNBA Today, 06/13/2011: Shockingly Bearable

I was all set to strip the Tulsa WNBA team of their nickname. I’d had enough, and they didn’t deserve to keep the same title as the storied franchise that won three championships back when they were playing in Michigan. Too much mismanagement, too many horrible performances, and too many completely unwatchable games of basketball that poor WNBA fans have been subjected to ever since this team moved to Oklahoma. I even had a whole new name picked out. We were going to call them the Wreck. Still a five-letter word ending in -ck, just like their official nickname; a far more fitting description for the state of their franchise and their roster; and a homophone of ‘rec’, as in the rec-league team that they frequently resemble. However, then they had the impertinence to go out and actually show some improvement against Connecticut on Sunday afternoon. Still lost, and it wasn’t really all that close, but improvement nonetheless. So, Tulsa franchise, you get to keep your nickname. For now.

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WNBA Today, 06/12/2011 (Part Two): She’s on Fire!

Part One of today’s coverage was posted earlier here, if you missed it

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Friday night, the San Antonio Silver Stars blew out that rec-league team from Oklahoma again, moving to a completely meaningless 2-0 record. Saturday night, they finally had to play a real basketball team, when the 0-2 Atlanta Dream came into the AT&T Center searching for their first win of the season. Atlanta finally had their full roster available, with Angel McCoughtry starting for the first time this year after recovering from her knee sprain. The first play of the game was McCoughtry’s layup attempt being smacked right back in her face by Ruth Riley, but Atlanta still took the initiative early, opening up a six-point lead by the end of the first and a 35-28 advantage by halftime. As the scoreline might suggest, this was by no means the prettiest game of basketball you’ve ever seen.

As expected by anyone with eyes and a modicum of sense, Atlanta’s size was giving San Antonio problems, especially on the glass. Continue reading

WNBA Today, 06/12/2011 (Part One): Fever/Libs battle, and the Sky’s the limit

You know, I had a report just about finished on the New York-Indiana game at Conseco on Friday night, then they went and played again last night and produced a carbon copy, only with the result reversed. So let’s tackle both games together. Pierson and Vaughn both picked up two early fouls in Friday’s game, which considering people like me keep going on about New York’s post situation looked worrying for the Libs. Not the case. Breland and Hollingsworth both came in and provided perfectly reasonable backup, the starters avoided drawing too many more whistles when they came back, and New York rolled. In both games the Libs opened up a lead in the second quarter, winning the period 30-18 on Friday and 22-16 last night to lead 52-42 and 49-45 respectively. So that’s the much vaunted Indiana Fever defense giving up 101 points in first halves alone on two consecutive nights – not what you’d expect from a team that has always built from a defensive base above anything else.

Apparently, Whiz can teach offense now as well. Continue reading

Sorry

Apologies to anyone checking the site and expecting ‘WNBA Today,  06/11/11’. Technical difficulties, as LiveAccess would say, prevented it today. Check back tomorrow for a bumper weekend edition. Promise.