Current roster certainties and virtual certainties:
PG: Ticha Penicheiro/Courtney Vandersloot
SG: Epiphanny Prince/Shay Murphy
SF: Swin Cash/Sonja Petrovic/Tamera Young
PF: Le’coe Willingham
C: Sylvia Fowles/Ruth Riley
Fighting for the final roster spot (or maybe to beat out Young, Murphy or Petrovic): Carolyn Swords, Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton, Felicia Chester, Shey Peddy
Well, being in Russia coaching Spartak Vidnoje certainly didn’t hinder coach Pokey Chatman’s WNBA activity this offseason. They made a big splash early, turning the #2 overall pick in the draft into Swin Cash and Le’coe Willingham in a deal with Seattle. The addition of proven veterans continued in free agency, as point guard Ticha Penicheiro and center Ruth Riley were both brought into the fold. Chatman also made a deal with San Antonio for the rights to Serbian forward Sonja Petrovic, who’s been playing for her at Spartak, and even she could be a useful addition if she can adapt to the WNBA game.
The Sky have lost the likes of Erin Thorn, Dominique Canty and Michelle Snow from last year’s squad, but the players they’ve added give the roster a much stronger, deeper look. Cash gives them that big small forward that this team has been searching for for years and an extra scoring option, while Penicheiro should help limit the endless turnovers that drove Chatman insane last season (and offer Courtney Vandersloot an excellent mentor). Re-signing Shay Murphy and Tamera Young likely completes the perimeter rotation, although neither of those two (or Petrovic) are exactly uncuttable if someone unexpected surprises in training camp.
The post rotation is where there are still decisions to be made. Willingham is a solid addition, and could start if necessary, as could Riley in a twin-towers front line with Sylvia Fowles similar to how Snow was used last season. But behind those three your guess is as good as mine. Cash and Petrovic can both swing down to the 4 in an emergency but that final roster spot will likely go to a true post of some description. Swords, Wisdom-Hylton, Chester and maybe even someone off the waiver wire will be fighting it out to impress Chatman over the next couple of weeks to snag that last spot.
Aw come on Richard there is no way in hell that Murphy is going to be cut she was great for them last season and also had a pretty good offseason.
Looking forward to seeing this team play! Finally some East games that i really want to watch.
Eh, she had a nice start as a bench spark, then tailed off badly, and then got hurt. She finished the season with a 37% shooting average from the floor (which amazingly is actually a little higher than her career WNBA average). She’s just not that good. But I agree with you that it’s decidedly unlikely she’ll get cut, because there’s not much competition in their camp.
I think the Riley/Fowles combo will be one we could see quite a bit of. I think they should keep Swords let Riley float between the 4 & 5. Riley is more of a finesse, high post player compared to the strength/power game of Fowles. Sylvia draws so much attention on the low block that Riley could get a lot of open jumpers from the elbows. She could have a season similar to Janel Burse’s last good season in Seattle under Donovan. Riley and Ford had a similar pairing in Detroit that seemed to work in 2003 and 2006. Ford did the dirty work while Riley got open shots.
It’s not really the same Riley that played in Detroit any more though. And given how poor their interior defense and rebounding were, I can’t help feeling that she’d have played more in San Antonio if Hughes thought her body could hold up to it and she was still any kind of force. On the bright side, Fowles will remove the need for a lot of the things San Antonio would’ve wanted from her.
I agree that Riley/Fowles is probably the most likely starting lineup, given Chatman’s fondness for Snow/Fowles last season. Although I wouldn’t be too surprised if Willingham actually ends up playing more minutes than Riley.
Yeah i think that Riley will probably start but will share the minutes with Willingham(25 mins) But i think that Riley can knock down that open elbow jumper more consistent then Snow did last season. And she will get those open looks with teams doubling Fowles inside and Swin being a threat as well.
This is the year of the Sky. We will get the last spot in the play offs.
Given all the changes, I think they’ll be aiming rather higher than that. But yes, first step is to finally make the playoffs.
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