2013 WNBA Season Previews: San Antonio Silver Stars

 

PG: Danielle Robinson

SG: Becky Hammon/Jia Perkins/Shenise Johnson/Davellyn White

SF: Shameka Christon

PF: DeLisha Milton-Jones/Danielle Adams

C: Jayne Appel/Kayla Alexander

 

Significant gains: DeLisha Milton-Jones, maybe Alexander

Significant losses: Sophia Young (plus Tangela Smith and Tully Bevilaqua are gone as well, for what that’s worth).

 

It’s a familiar story here if you read yesterday’s preview for Connecticut. A successful team from last season returns nearly everybody – except for the star power forward. While playing in China, Sophia Young tore the ACL in her right knee, and is out for the season. The combination of Young and Becky Hammon has been the heart of this Silver Stars team for years now, and while they’ve added some useful pieces around their star pair, it leaves a big hole. Coping with Young’s absence is going to be a difficult proposition.

 

For years, this has been a poor rebounding team with limited post presence. Their rebounding actually improved last year – it went from truly abysmal to merely bad – but most of that jump came from Young’s own rededication to crashing the glass. Now they’re going to have to re-work their post rotation without their best player. DeLisha Milton-Jones was signed as a free agent and will help fill the hole. She’s a hard-nosed fighter who can still make the occasional play, and may enjoy seeing a few more touches of the ball than were available in LA, but she’s on the downside of her career. Danielle Adams will once again set some games alight with her soft touch from outside, but she still has the unfortunate combination of being undersized – height-wise – and oversized – width-wise. At center there’s Jayne Appel, who actually had a reasonable year last season when her role was clearly defined as rebounder, defender, and finisher if she was absolutely wide open under the rim with no one anywhere in the vicinity. If they’re going to score any points inside this season, Appel may have to at least try to look at the basket a little more. Finally there’s rookie Kayla Alexander from Syracuse, who’ll be given a chance to make a quick impact. That’s a desperately thin group of options in the paint. They might survive defensively, but it’s going to be a struggle to score any points near the rim.

 

But then, the Silver Stars have never exactly focussed on scoring inside, even when Young was available. They’re built around speed, motion and perimeter shooting, led by apparently ageless guard Becky Hammon. With her combination of seemingly impossible spinning finishes at the rim and long-range bombs, Hammon’s a threat the fill it up on any given night, and she’ll be one of the league leaders in assists as well. Her defense has always been something of an issue, but at this point that’s just part of the Becky package. The worry for San Antonio is that Hammon broke a finger on her shooting hand in training camp, and is now out for an unspecified period. Losing her on top of Young for any length of time would be a tough pill to swallow.

 

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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

WNBA Offseason Overview/Preseason Preview: San Antonio Silver Stars

Current roster certainties and virtual certainties:

PG: Danielle Robinson/Tully Bevilaqua

SG: Becky Hammon/Jia Perkins/Shenise Johnson

SF: Shameka Christon

PF: Sophia Young/Danielle Adams

C: Tangela Smith/Jayne Appel

Fighting for the final roster spot: Porsha Phillips, Ziomara Morrison, Latoya Williams, Loree Moore, Ify Ibekwe

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It was a strange offseason for the Silver Stars. They added some veteran talent, potentially improved their depth significantly, got lucky in the draft in the eyes of many – and yet unless a longshot or two comes through, failed to address their key weaknesses from a year ago.

San Antonio signed Shameka Christon, a player in a very similar situation to Alana Beard in LA. An All-Star level small forward back in her New York days, Christon hasn’t played in the WNBA since suffering an eye injury early in her 2010 season with Chicago. A knee injury then kept her out of the 2011 season, and unlike Beard there aren’t even any overseas numbers or performances to judge her fitness from. If she can return to something like her former self, it’ll be a nice pick up, but it could take some time. Shenise Johnson, thought to be the second-best player in this draft class by many, fell to the Silver Stars at #5 and may be ready to help the team quicker than Christon. A combo-guard/wing wasn’t really what this team needed, but head coach/GM Dan Hughes obviously felt she was too good to pass up once she dropped down the board. A trade also brought in Tangela Smith from Indiana, swapped for gunner Roneeka Hodges. Smith had a poor year for the Fever last season, but San Antonio will be hoping she can at least provide some veteran know-how and a little help for them in the post.

Because that’s where this team’s issues lie, and in fact where they’ve lain for quite some time – they don’t have much size or presence in the paint, and their rebounding is horrendous. Continue reading

WNBAlien 2011 Previews: San Antonio Silver Stars

PG: Tully Bevilaqua/Danielle Robinson

SG: Becky Hammon/Jia Perkins

SF: Scholanda Robinson/Roneeka Hodges (yeah they’re both mostly guards. Someone‘s gotta play here)

PF: Sophia Young/Danielle Adams/Porsha Phillips

C: Ruth Riley/Jayne Appel

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Head Coach: Dan Hughes

Significant additions: Perkins, maybe Robinson, maybe other Robinson, and throw Tully in there as the latest in their line of point guards who don’t score. Hughes back as coach could be the most important change.

Significant losses: Chamique Holdsclaw, Michelle Snow, and purely because they’d been there so long, the two-headed pointless point-guard pairing of Helen Darling and Edwige Lawson-Wade.

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So considering I’m writing to this two days late, and as a result we all got to see San Antonio win by 20 last night, I should be all upbeat and positive about their season, right? Right? Yeah, not so much. Continue reading