2012 In-Depth WNBA Season Preview: Tulsa Shock

PG: Temeka Johnson/Ivory Latta

SG: Riquna Williams/Jene Morris

SF: Scholanda Dorrell/Karima Christmas

PF: Kayla Pedersen/Glory Johnson/Jennifer Lacy

C: Chante Black/Lynetta Kizer/(Elizabeth Cambage)

Significant additions: Gary Kloppenburg (new head coach, former Indiana assistant), Johnson (trade with Phoenix), Robinson (free agency from San Antonio), Johnson (college draft), Williams (college draft), Morris (free agency after being out of the league), Black (missed last season through injury), Kizer (college draft).

Significant losses: Tiffany Jackson (pregnant, will miss entire season), Elizabeth Cambage (training with Australian National Team and will miss first half of season), Sheryl Swoopes (free agent, unsigned), Amber Holt (cut), Andrea Riley (trade with Phoenix)

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At least now we can give the Shock fans some hope. There’s some light at the end of the tunnel. A hint of spring peeking its head up from the end of a long, cold winter. Because Nolan Richardson is no longer in charge, and the Shock hierarchy finally went out and found someone with a history in the WNBA who just might know what he’s doing. A long-time WNBA assistant coach, most recently for several years in Indiana, Gary Kloppenburg takes the reins and can begin the long road back to contention for this franchise. No one’s saying this team are going to be good, not yet. In fact, player for player this roster might even be worse than last year. But you have to start somewhere, and you have to start heading in the right direction. The Shock look like they might finally be doing that. Continue reading

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2012 In-Depth WNBA Season Preview: Seattle Storm

PG: Sue Bird

SG: Tanisha Wright/Katie Smith

SF: Camille Little/Shekinna Stricklen/Alysha Clark

PF: Tina Thompson/Victoria Dunlap

C: Ann Wauters/Ewelina Kobryn/(Lauren Jackson)

Significant additions: Wauters (free agency after being out of the league through choice), Thompson (free agency from Los Angeles), Stricklen (college draft), Dunlap (trade with Washington), Clark (free agency after being out of the league)

Significant losses: Lauren Jackson (missing first half of season to train with Australian National Team), Swin Cash and Le’coe Willingham (trade with Chicago), Ashley Robinson (trade with Washington)

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Being consistently good can be a problem in US sports leagues. The lack of high draft picks that results means that teams can get old before your eyes, without the young talent being added to replace them. Storm head coach/general manager Brian Agler decided that he needed to do something about that this offseason and made a big move, giving up important veterans Swin Cash and Le’coe Willingham to acquire the second overall pick in the draft. The trade was partly made in the hope that one of the highly-touted college juniors (Brittney Griner, Elena Delle Donne, Skylar Diggins) would declare for the draft, which ultimately never occurred, leaving it looking a far more risky move. Still, the move also created the cap room for him to re-stock with other veterans, and even without star post Lauren Jackson for the first half of the season the Storm should be very competitive once again. Continue reading

2012 In-Depth WNBA Season Preview: San Antonio Silver Stars

PG: Danielle Robinson/Tully Bevilaqua

SG: Becky Hammon/Jia Perkins

SF: Shameka Christon/Shenise Johnson

PF: Sophia Young/Danielle Adams/Tangela Smith

C: Jayne Appel/Ziomara Morrison

Significant additions: Christon (free agency after being out of the league), Johnson (college draft), Smith (trade with Indiana), Morrison (free agency from outside the league)

Significant losses: Ruth Riley (free agency to Chicago), Scholanda Robinson (free agency to Tulsa), Roneeka Hodges (trade with Indiana), Porsha Phillips (cut)

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Last season was fun for the Silver Stars and their fans. Expectations were modest after a poor year under Sandy Brondello in 2010, and everyone was happy to have Dan Hughes back in charge. Then Danielle Robinson and Danielle Adams both excited everyone as rookies, Jia Perkins proved a worthy addition on the perimeter, and they even took a game off the eventual champion Minnesota Lynx in the first-round of the playoffs. Things were looking up, and a team that had started to age and look a little stale had a fresh outlook. Now they have to build on that momentum and keep the push going, as they try to make the step from plucky outsider to true contender. Continue reading

2012 In-Depth WNBA Season Preview: Phoenix Mercury

PG: Samantha Prahalis

SG: Diana Taurasi/Alexis Hornbuckle/Alexis Gray-Lawson

SF: DeWanna Bonner/Charde Houston/(Penny Taylor)

PF: Candice Dupree/

C: Nakia Sanford/Zane Tamane/Avery Warley

Significant additions: Prahalis (college draft), Houston (‘trade’ with Minnesota), Hornbuckle (‘trade’ with Minnesota), Tamane (free agency after being out of the league)

Significant losses: Penny Taylor (ACL injury, out for the season), Temeka Johnson (giveaway trade with Tulsa), Ketia Swanier (free agency to Atlanta), Marie Ferdinand-Harris (unsigned, retired from the WNBA)

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Like LA, there are all kinds of questions hanging over this team heading into the 2012 season. Unfortunately for the Mercury, it’s hard to find quite so many answers. They began their offseason by trading starting point guard Temeka Johnson to Tulsa for Andrea Riley, who ultimately didn’t even make the team. Then Penny Taylor blew out her knee playing in the EuroLeague Women Final Eight, ending her WNBA season before it began (along with her Olympic dreams). Free agency produced merely two players from the end of Minnesota’s bench and a backup big from Europe, while point guard hopes now rest on an untried rookie. Even with their typically exciting run-and-gun system and the mercurial talents of superstar Diana Taurasi, is could be a long season for the Mercury. Continue reading

2012 In-Depth WNBA Season Preview: Minnesota Lynx

PG: Lindsay Whalen/Erin Thorn

SG: Seimone Augustus/Candice Wiggins

SF: Maya Moore/Monica Wright

PF: Rebekkah Brunson/Devereaux Peters

C: Taj McWilliams-Franklin/Jessica Adair/Amber Harris

Significant additions: Thorn (free agency from Chicago), Peters (college draft), Championship rings

Significant losses: Alexis Hornbuckle (‘trade’ with Phoenix), Charde Houston (‘trade’ with Phoenix)

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You know what makes sense when you win a championship and prove to be one of the better teams in league history? Bringing back everyone who mattered from that team, and going for the repeat. So the Lynx did just that. Early fears that Candice Wiggins might leave through free agency or that Taj McWilliams-Franklin might wish to move on to yet another team ultimately proved unfounded, so the top nine players from last year’s squad return in 2012. And they’ve arguably upgraded the remaining two spots. Injury, complacency, and the big bulls-eye now painted on their back are the only things that look like threats to stop this team from being just as good as they were last year. Continue reading

2012 In-Depth WNBA Season Preview: Los Angeles Sparks

PG: Sharnee Zoll

SG: Alana Beard/Kristi Toliver/April Sykes

SF: DeLisha Milton-Jones/Marissa Coleman

PF: Candace Parker/Nneka Ogwumike/Ebony Hoffman

C: Nicky Anosike/Jantel Lavender

Significant additions: Carol Ross (new head coach, formerly an assistant with Atlanta), Ogwumike (college draft), Beard (free agency from Washington), Coleman (trade from Washington), Anosike (trade from Washington), Zoll (free agency after being out of the league), Sykes (college draft)

Significant losses: Ticha Penicheiro (free agency to Chicago), Tina Thompson (free agency to Seattle), Noelle Quinn (trade with Washington), Jenna O’Hea (with Australian National Team preparing for the Olympics), Natasha Lacy (trade with Washington), LaToya Pringle (trade with Washington)

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After several years of mediocrity and inconsistency, the very least we can say about the Sparks heading into 2012 is that they’re interesting. There are so many questions, sub-plots and unknowns surrounding this team that it’s going to be fascinating to see how it all works out. If new head coach Carol Ross can pull all the pieces together, and they stay largely healthy throughout the year, they have the potential to be a powerful and dangerous group. However, even the most devoted Sparks fan has to admit, there’s also the potential here for everything to come crumbling down around them. Continue reading

2012 In-Depth Season Preview: Washington Mystics

PG: Dominique Canty/Jasmine Thomas

SG: Matee Ajavon/Noelle Quinn/Natalie Novosel/Natasha Lacy

SF: Monique Currie

PF: Crystal Langhorne/Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton/(LaToya Pringle)

C: Michelle Snow/Ashley Robinson

Significant additions: Canty (free agency from Chicago), Currie (missed vast majority of last season through injury), Lacy (trade with Los Angeles), Novosel (college draft), Quinn (trade with Los Angeles), Robinson (trade with Seattle), Snow (free agency from Chicago), Wisdom-Hylton (claimed off waivers from Chicago)

Significant losses: Alana Beard (free agency to Los Angeles), Marissa Coleman (trade with Los Angeles), Nicky Anosike (trade with Los Angeles), Kelly Miller (free agency to New York), Victoria Dunlap (trade with Seattle), DeMya Walker (free agency to New York)

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You know what’s strange – I actually see the logic here. It’s easy to rag on the Mystics and head coach/general manager Trudi Lacey. This team was a disaster last year. They failed to retain the coach and general manger that produced their best ever season in 2010, and everything went downhill from there. Constant comments about injuries and blatant nonsense about how young the squad was did them no favours with their remaining fans, and when the season finally ended after just six wins all year, it was a blessed relief. But Lacey’s moves in the offseason made sense. The organisation finally cut ties with former franchise player Alana Beard, having had enough of paying her to be injured. Then they retained the three players that emerged from last season with any credit – Crystal Langhorne, Matee Ajavon and Monique Currie – and turned over practically every other spot on the roster. Isn’t that what you ought to do after a horrendous year? Keep the few positives, and change everything else that you can? Lacey’s also built herself a much more experienced, veteran squad, which fits the players she seemed to favour last season. Yes, it’s probably going to be more than a one-year process to resurrect this team from the depths it plumbed last season, but what she’s doing makes some sense. Continue reading