Monday, July 9, 2012

HALFWAY MARK SURPRISES!


When it comes to WNBA I always expect great but as with any season there are many things in WNBA 2012 I did not expect.  It's been quite a six week long ride.  We've witnessed our share of dramatic last second heroics, milestones eclipsed, much improved teams/players, and season altering injuries.  Whoever said  the Minnesota Lynx would run away with it (and there were many) may be eating crow come this October -- including yours truly.

One of the big surprises was the Connecticut Sun.  Though they've always been a contender for much of their ten seasons I never expected them to be this good.  Who did?  And they've been better than good -- they're now near neck and neck with the once invincible Minnesota Lynx.  Their victory over Minny in the Twin Cities this past Saturday was as great a showing as any the franchise has made since the departure of Katie Douglas, Lindsay Whalen, and Nykesha Sales.  The reason?  Asjha Jones?  Somewhat.  Tina Charles?  Close but not quite.  The reason is undeniably Kara Lawson.



LAW OF THE LAND

The Sun's Lawson Directing CT to Win Over MN

Coach Mike Thibault's decision to make Lawson a starter at the one over the talented but streaky Renee Montgomery was probably the best move by any WNBA coach thus far.  Lawson's hoop IQ is as good as anyone's in the league in my opinion.  As a disciplined floor general with amazing shooting range and championship experience she now has the opportunity to steer CT back into the Finals -- a place the Sun hasn't been in seven years.  (By the way, the last time the Connecticut was in the Finals they were defeated by the Sacramento Monarchs -- Kara Lawson's team).  However let us not forget the scrappy play of Tan White and newly acquired role player Mistie Mims.  Both women have frequently made excellent use of the minutes they have been given and it shows.   It will be interesting to see how the Sun perform after the Olympic break.  


 
INJURY ROW
Mercury's Injury Bug Results In Dismal Season

In a videotaped practical joke played by Diana Taurasi on her teammates during preseason, the star shooting guard claimed that she was given an ultimatum: play in the Olympics or play for the Mercury this year -- she couldn't have it both ways.  DeWanna Bonner, who fell for it, remarked that should Diana go, the team "would suck".  Of course, Taurasi was just joking and eventually let DeWanna, Nakia Sanford, and Alexis Hornbuckle off the hook, but the joke that Taurasi wouldn't be on the roster seems to have been sort of an unfortunate omen.  Plagued by a injured hip flexor, the 30 year old UConn alum has only played in two games.  I honestly did not expect her absence on the floor and presence in street clothes to be this long.  There were nasty rumors that she was given a rest (and star preference) for the London games.  Hogwash, says WNBA Jones.  But her not playing has taken the umph out of Phoenix which has already been suffering the loss of Penny Taylor's services to a torn ACL.  Then Candice Dupree got injured.  Then Nakia Sanford.  The result has been a dismal 4 and 12 record.  Tweets are already suggesting the team is tanking to grab Brittany Griner or Elena Della Donne in next year's draft.  Once again, hogwash.  But let's just say 2013 should be a very good year for the Mighty Merc should they stay healthy.



99 SOLUTIONS AND THIS CHICK IS ONE
Mighty Merc Prahalis Looking to Dish

On the bright and somewhat unexpected side, rookie Samantha "Styles P" Prahalis has blossomed into an exceptional point guard.  I like the kid but had doubts as to whether she'd be a huge improvement over Temeka Johnson who was traded to the Tulsa Shock.  Fortunately for Phoenix she's played well, even leading the league in assists per game for a few weeks.  One could only imagine how many more assists she'd have if Taurasi, Taylor, and Dupree were all at full strength.  While Sam's FG% could use work, much of her game is fundamentally sound.  She's quick, fiery, and has been less and less hesitant with her decision making as the weeks go by.  In many ways she's made the team's top scorer, perennial Sixth Woman Of the Year DeWanna Bonner, even better.  The result is that Styles P has become a top contender for Rookie Of the Year, along with Nneka Ogwumike of the Sparks and Tulsa's Glory Johnson.



 TWIN PITIES
The Lynx Suffer Rare Three Game Skid

What?  Minnesota losing three games in a row?  Say that again.  C'mon now.  At the rate the were going, I thought the Lynx would break the Houston Comets' record with a 32 and 2 record, en route to second consecutive 'ship.  Now I'm hearing they could possibly lose in the playoffs to San Antonio or LA.  What a difference a week makes.  What Minny has endured of late is indicative of how hard it is to live up to your own high standard against eleven teams who desperately want a piece of you.  No team has more pressure to win than the Lynx.  No championship team has been expected to repeat as much as the Lynx.  Though they're known for their stingy, iron curtain type defense, Minnesota's few weaknesses have been exploited by quicker, younger, just-as-hungry players.  I think that once San Antonio beat them, it gave LA and CT all sorts of confidence to do the same.  The Sun rattled the Lynx in ways they haven't been in a long time, forcing Coach Carol Reeves to make numerous (and a few head scratching) changes throughout the game.  Though they put together an exciting run in the 4th quarter, ultimately, none of the changes led to a victory.  In the last few minutes, Whalen was left cheer-leading on the sideline.  I found that  questionable in more ways than one.  But hey, if there's any team that could benefit from the Olympic break it would be the Lynx.  They have three (Moore, Whalen, and Augustus) going to London.  Minny no doubt hopes that they return healthy, strong, and re-energized to defend their title.


 
NOT TO BE DENIED
Sparks' Toliver Having A Career Season
 
You know what.  The 2012 Sparks can reasonably be the first team to boast MVP, Rookie Of the Year, and Most Improved Player all in the same season.  The first two are really no surprise.  Playing with a knee that's not quite 100%, Candace Parker has performed like a woman possessed for most of the way, seizing Player Of The Week and Month Awards multiple times.  For Nneka Ogwumike's part, she's been beasting in the paint, controlling the boards, dominating inside.  Neither award is a lock quite yet but it looks very good for both players.  The surprise though is Kristi Toliver.  Or should I say Kristi Toliver 2.0, Kristi Toliver with a supped up V-8 engine.  You get the idea.  The league's Rapunzel (the woman's hair is loooong) has been killer in '12, averaging 17.3 points and just under 5 entrees a game.  Her FG% is an impressive .470.  She's 91% from the line and 40% from downtown.  The word is amazing.  I see Tollie having a just as good if not better second half, which should make her cash money for MIP of 2012.   

Honorable Mentions

1. I truly thought Marissa Coleman would be a more significant presence for the Sparks.  Her numbers say otherwise.

2. The Mercury's Avery Warley has come out of nowhere to become a tough, no nonsense baller whom I wish Coach Corey Gaines would design more plays for.  

3.  Shannon Bobbit cut?  Didn't see that coming.  As a Washington Mystic she did get some sweet revenge against her former team the Indiana Fever in one recent game.

4.  Both Miller twins, Kelly and Coco, getting cut the same day.  Always loved those two.  

5.  Epiphanny Prince leading the league in points per game.  Her fantastic three game run of 30 points or more was something to watch.  Tough when she got injured.

And those are my surprises for the first half of WNBA 2012.  Enjoy the Olympics and get in gear for an incredible August, September, and October.

- WNBA Jones

     

    

       

Monday, June 4, 2012

WNBA'S TALES OF THE UNEXPECTED, PART DEUX




Well, well, well.  What an incredible week it's been.  We've seen some games that have gone down to the wire and some marvelous clutch plays made at crunch time.   We've seen the Eastern Conference become hella competitive with three teams going 4-1 and the Atlanta Dream bound to improve.  And we've witnessed a perennial playoff contender in the NY Liberty go winless in 5 games before beating an undefeated Indiana Fever in the biggest upset thus far.

***

Question: who's the Western Conference's leading scorer?  Nope.  Not her either.  Think again.   It's Sparks' point guard Kristi Toliver.  Yes.  No lie.  The Maryland alum has been enjoying an outstanding beginning to the 2012 season -- albeit with an unfortunate record setting bump along the way.



KRISTI TURNOVER
Sparks' Toliver Redeems Herself
After Setting a Dubious Record

It's been said that 12 turnovers for any team is the absolute limit before being declared sad.  Well, on May 29th, playing the Tulsa Shock in Los Angeles, Toliver managed to collect a whopping 14 TOs all by her lonesome.  It broke a record of 11 set by Michelle Edwards way back in 1997 and shared by such league luminaries as Diana Taurasi, Chamique Holdsclaw, and Crystal Langhorne.  (I wonder of big Crystal was ruinning point in that game).   You would think that the 14 TOs would amount to a losing effort.  Wrong.  Tollie was able to redeem herself in dramatic fashion with a running pull-up three at the buzzer.  The crowd at Staples went beserk and a dancing Kristi was swarmed by her teammates, including fellow Maryland Terp Marissa Coleman.   Toliver coluld've lost her emotional bearings, but she appeared calm in that final timeout huddle.  I attribute some of that to new Sparks coach Carol Ross who's been doing a great job with her ladies.



PRINCE AND THE REVOLUTION
Chicago Sky's Prince Out To Lead Team To
First Post Season Ever
 
Don't know what Epiphanny Prince is eating in the morning but it's working.  She's dropped 30+ points two games in a row and leads the league in points per game at 23.8.   Prince put her dancing shoes on and led Chi-Town to a tight 94-92 OT victory over the Atlanta Dream this past Saturday.  In a duel with Angel McCoughtry, "Piff" was virtually unstoppable, sinking 33 points on 12-25 shooting and adding 5 assists and 9 rebounds.  I always get a kick out of the smaller players doing the grandest things and the Sky couldn't be more pleased either.  It's a pivotal year for them with the much publicized off season moves they've made.  Expect Rutgers alum Prince to play a huge part both now and down the stretch.  


 
BIRD WATCHING
Bird Has Much On Her Mind
with Storm Suffering a Bad Start

Two weeks into the season and The Storm already lose a 5 game season series to the Los Angeles Sparks.  The newly improved, supercharged Sparks have beaten Seattle three straight, including a mind-boggling come from behind victory in the season opener -- in Seattle.  I can't pin the Storm's 1-4 slide solely on the absence of star center Lauren Jackson (currently training with the Aussies for the Olympics).   I feel there are two other factors responsible.  One, the trading away of Le'Coe Willingham and Swin Cash.  I thought the deal would be a debit for Seattle and it seems evident now.  Two, I'm not convinced that Bird is functioning at 100% since her hip surgery.  Like any respected veteran, she's demonstrated spurts of speed here and there but she does not appear to be quite as sharp as in past seasons -- especially on defense.   The All Star and Olympian will undoubtedly remain with the Storm for the remainder of her career, but the buzz is that the team is on the verge of making a big move within the season.  By the way, they play the Minnesota Lynx next.



CAPPING A VICTORY 
Pondexter Digging Liberty Out Of Doldrums 

I had no idea the Liberty would lose their first four games.  I never expected them to go far this season, but they looked like a 90s team playing against 21st century talent.   Like many, I thought the undefeated Fever would beat winless New York two games in a row in their home and home.  However the Fever were playing on the road and the old sports adage says that strange things happen on the road.  In an impressive 87-72 victory on Sunday, the Liberty played the type of defense they're known for, forcing 21 TOs and taking the umphh out of Tamika Catchings' 19 points.  It's the type of defense that left you wondering what took 'em so long?  Guard Cappie Pondexter dazzled the Prudential crowd with 25 buckets and Plenette Pierson (really beasting right now) and Essence Carson each added 16.  A win over a stellar team should give the Liberty all kinds of momentum.  They'll need all of it for the Eastern Conference champ Atlanta Dream in their next game on June 5th. 



 JENNY ON THE BLOCK
Shock's Lacy Making a Case For 
WNBA's Most Improved Player 

I've said it on Twitter but it bares repeating: The Shock have the best 0-6 start of any team in league history.  Though the Minnesota Lynx have yet to taste defeat, I find their complete opposite counterparts more exciting.  The Shock are younger, faster, and wear better uniforms.  Coach Klop's ladies have been so close to clinching victory time and time again.   You feel bad for them, but you also feel good about their potential.  And that's not the only thing you feel good about if you're a Shock fan.  Jennifer Lacy is having a significantly better season than last.   She dropped 19 points in Sunday's game versus the Phoenix Mercury and is currently averaging 10.2 points a contest -- much of that off the bench.   Her PPG last year?  A mousey 6.3.  If I have a 6'3" player on my squad I'm expecting more production and it appears that both Lacy and the Tulsa staff agree.  So far, she's my favorite for Most Improved Player of 2012.  Keep up the good work, Lace.


 DISHIN AND SWISHIN
Mercury's Prahalis Looking Better and Better 

At the end of preseason, Phoenix Mercury coach Corey Gaines didn't seem too enamored with first round draft pick Samantha Prahalis.  He didn't say she was awful but didn't say he was impressed either.  But then Gaines rarely seems impressed at anything.  When I heard him say that the point guard spot would be filled by committee, I didn't expect Prahalis to start.  Not with Alexis Gray Lawson performing so famously in before the regular season began.  As fate would have it Prahalis has been starting and though she hasn't gone off the charts she's performed very well with the Taurasi less, Penny-less Mercs.  In fact, she's the league leader in dishes (6.2 a game).  Rather remarkable due to not having Penny Taylor or Diana Taurasi to pass off to.  Now on the other hand, yes, Sam's shot selection could use work.  But her 19 points off 7 for 16 shooting against Tulsa on Sunday suggest that her field goal percentage can and will improve.  Also worth noting -- only 2 turnovers in the same game.  I really like this kid.  Her feisty swag and determination reminds me of DT when she was a rookie.  She's like her kid sister in a way. 

And there you have it.  Tales of the unexpected in week two of WNBA 2012.

- WNBA Jones   












Saturday, May 26, 2012

WNBA'S TALES OF THE UNEXPECTED

 


 EYE ON THE BALL IN THE EYE OF THE STORM
Bird and Toliver Fight for Loose Ball 
in Season Opener  
 
The first week of WNBA games has gone by and because this year's season started earlier than usual due to the Olympics, it would be unfair to expect fluid, cohesive play even among the league's most sure-handed veterans.  We saw major wheels turning right from the beginning when Seattle Storm coughed up TOs in their season opener to the Los Angeles Sparks - a game the home team Storm had full control of until the fourth quarter.  Turnovers would also hoist a cloud over teams like the Chicago Sky and the New York Liberty, who have gone 0-4 -- their worst start in six years.  

The Liberty's winless start kind of caught me off guard.  True, I did not expect them to have an outstanding season.  But despite decent play from Kia Vaughn, Kara Braxton, and Plenette Pierson, it seems as though they've been playing with four women on the court at times.   Cappie Pondexter remains their brightest star and even she appears flustered due to the occasional lethargic performance of a few of her teammates.  Their front office inexpicably did not make any major moves during the off season.  Center Janel McCarville has sat out the season for the second straight year.  Moreover, their draft pick, 6'6" Kelley Cain hasn't been able to put together a good set of quality minutes.   Nicole Powell has not been playing up to snuff and her days in the Big Apple may be numbered.  Add to that Coach Whisenant's personal crisis with his wife's diagnosis of ovarian cancer.  Some are already suspecting that the team may get Baylor sensation Britney Griner in next year's draft.  Already suspecting.  If they do get her, great.  But that's a long way off and no one likes long losing seasons -- least of all New Yorkers.



THE SUN IS THE BIGGEST STAR
Montgomery Fights Johnson to The Hole 


The Connecticut Sun's 3-0 start also surprised me somewhat.  I thought they would lose to the San Antonio Stars in Friday's contest and although the Stars did make a last minute comeback, the Sun controlled the tempo for most of the game en route to a 83-79 victory.  Connecticut look very good.  They are playing well aware of each player's strengths, thinking two and three steps ahead, moving smoothly in the half court.  Tina Charles and Asjha Jones have especially performed well and Coach Thibault seems to be galvanizing the offense around that tandem.   Smart.  Also smart was his decision to make point guard Renee Montgomery a role player off the bench.   Montgomery is a player with loads of potential who can run with the best of them and is capable of making some unbelievable highlight worthy plays.  But she also tends to get erratic at the wrong times.  The move has paid off so far.  In Friday's game she sunk 23 points, and her 5 turnovers didn't negatively impact the Sun's fate.   No telling how many TOs she would have had if she had started.   

On the Silver Stars side I've been pleasantly surprised with small forward Shameka Christon who's dropping 15 points a game -- the majority of her damage from downtown.  If used effectively, she has the potential to win some big games that could very well propel San Antonio into the playoffs and possibly beyond.  

The Atlanta Dream looks to have made up for the loss of Izi Marques with contributions from UConn alum Tiffany Hayes and ex-Merc Ketia Swanier.  Sancho Lyttle is running up the court and doing damage averaging 13.5 points and 8.5 boards a game.  And like franchise player Angel McCoughtery, she can steal too.   What was unexpected?   Ten points on 5 for 5 shooting with 7 boards from Russian center Yelena Leuchanka vs the Liberty.   She may not be able to fill Erika DeSouza's shoes all the way, but she may come close enough. 



MIGHT AS WELL JUMP
Johnson Looks Past Adams for a Deuce 
 

Due to technical difficulties WNBA LiveAccess was not able to broadcast a tight game between the Phoenix Mercury and the Tulsa Shock.  It was expected that WNBA Live Access would have issues as they did last year.  What was not expected is the $4.99 price for the season long pass.  Cheap -- but expensive if the video is shoddy or you can't see games at all.   And we've already witnessed cases of both in Week One.  (Ssssigh).   On the player side was the unexpected but superb work of Tulsa's Temeka Johnson.  I say unexpected only because her point totals have decreased in recent years.   Her 18.5 pts and 8 dishes a game makes it appear as though she's been set free from the Mercury after a mediocre 2011.  She's been nothing short of wonderful, playing ten feet tall.  

Then there is Charde Houston.  The Smooth Scalp One knocked down threes from the Virgin Islands in a 24 pt performance  against her former team, the Lynx, this past Sunday.  While still flawed (she collected multiple TOs in the game against Tulsa), her main adversary will be endurance, especially in the fourth quarter.



KRISTI IN MINNY
Toliver Squeezes Through For A Tough Basket

Which brings me to the Los Angeles Spark point guard Kristi Toliver.  The twenty two point per game Kristi Toliver.  Yes, all the talk about Nneka Ogwumike (who had a great breakout game against the Lynx) has made us temporarily forget LA's backcourt.   Shooting 55% from the floor and a whopping 60% from behind the arc, Kristi could certainly make WNBA's first Player of the Week of the 2012 season.   Her biggest challenge?  With backup point Sharnee Zoll out for the year with a torn ACL, Kristi will have to be amazing all season long.

Those have been the surprises that have leaped out at me thus far.  The Lynx going 3-0 is obviously no surprise at all.  In fact I wouldn't be surprised if they have an even better season this year, perhaps besting the 2000 Los Angeles Sparks record of 28-4.  They play together as though they've been at it for ten years.  They remind me of the San Antonio Spurs -- the perfect mix of stellar veterans and eager-to-win youth.

Still, the WNBA's night is young.   

- WNBA Jones   

Sunday, May 20, 2012

WNBA'S EARLY SURPRISES

And what a extraordinary weekend it was, gang!  Some teams came out bangin.  Others could've used an extra week of pre-season.  No matter.  All and all the first few days of the 2012 WNBA Season did not disappoint!  

Here are the early surprises:

   

KRISTI TOLIVER (LAS)

Who woulda thunk it?  I knew Toliver was good.  But not good for twenty five points in the toughest arena to play in on the road -- off the bench!   Toliver gave Bird and the Storm the business and the receipts with her 25 pt performance in a riveting come from behind victory.  Perhaps her best game as a pro.




CHARDE HOUSTON (PHX)

The one great thing about a star player being out of the lineup is that someone you least expect to step up big can sometimes do just that.  Though the Taylor-less, Taurasi-less Mercs lost big to the defending champion juggernaut Lynx, a secret weapon was unleashed in the form of ex-Lynx role player Charde Houston.  With 24 pts including 5 tres, Charde ought to get the minutes she didn't get in Minny.




 TEMEKA JOHNSON (TUL)

Mercury fans, take a good luck at this picture of Temeka Johnson in a Mercury uni.  Telling from her play against the San Antonio, you may want her back in Phoenix.  She calmly sunk 21 pts while serving up 9 assists.  Yeah, the Shock lost, but the 2005 Rookie of the Year looks like her old self after a so-so 2011.  She and Ivory Latta should be exciting to watch this year.



 
SHAMEKA CHRISTON (SAS)

I love efficiency and Shameka Christon's performance against the Shock is a prime example of what efficient play is.  She dropped 16 points in ... 16 minutes, much of that due to her superb shooting from downtown.  It will be interesting to see how Coach Dan Hughes plays her alongside Shenise Johnson and the two Danielles. 





 ANN WAUTERS (SEA)

I like this addition for the Storm.  At the rate she was going early against the Sparks Friday night, I thought she'd leave Key Arena with 40 points.  As fate would have it she cooled off in the second in an embarrassing loss.  Still, with 17 pts and 7 boards, filling Lauren Jackson's shoes may not be as daunting as we thought.



- WNBA Jones


Thursday, May 17, 2012

SURVEY SAYS!

Yeah, yeah!  We're just a day away from the inaugural tip off of the 2012 WNBA season, the league's sixteenth.  We've seen some exciting play during an early, crash course type of preseason.  We've also seen some drastic cuts made (the proper term "waived" doesn't make any such player feel any better).  And, as with every sport, we've been bombarded with a gang of team and player predictions before opening day. 

The league has released the results from their own 2012 Predictions survey on wnba.com.  The questions that stood out most?  




Which “sleeper” rookie is most likely to be a success?


Riquana Williams            36.36%
Tiffany Hayes                   18.18%
Shekinna Stricklen          18.18%
LaSondra Barrett            9.09%
Sasha Goodlet                  9.09%
Shenise Johnson              9.09%

So much depends on team chemistry and which player becomes the focal point of the offense.  That makes the above survey question tough to answer.  Riquana performed well during preseason, and everyone knows she played with all kinds of awesomeness throughout her college career.  However I would but Shekinna second and Shenise Johnson third.   I love Shenise's all-around energy.  I also believe Shekinna will be one the game's premier perimeter players. 




Which team will win the Eastern Conference?

Indiana Fever                   41.67%
Connecticut Sun               25%
Atlanta Dream                  8.33%
Chicago Sky                      8.33%

Always held the Fever in high regard, but I still have Sky winning the East despite their mediocre play in their final preseason game.   I just don't see the Fever being dominate as they were in '09 this year.  I think depending too much on older veterans Katie Douglas and Tamika Catchings for offense will get the best of them in the home stretch.  They need to trade for younger players.  



Which team made the best off season moves overall?

Chicago Sky                   45.4%
Los Angeles Sparks       27.3% 
Tulsa Shock                    18.2%
Washington Mystics      9.1%

I'd switch the Sky with the Sparks.  Don' get me wrong.  The Sky did well in trading for Swin Cash, LeCoe Willingham, and Ticha P. but the Sparks went buckwild.   They brought onboard a exceptional, more than qualified coach in Carol Ross, plus acquired Marissa Coleman and a healthy Alana Beard from the Mystics.  What am I missing?  Oh.   They drafted some so-so forward from Stanford.   I believe the Sparks are the only franchise that could possibly give the Lynx problems in postseason.  

The Shock have also made some interesting power moves.  They won't be a major threat but they won't be boring.  I say they finish 14-20.



Which was the most underrated acquisition?

Mistie Bass by Connecticut     18.2%    
Ruth Riley by Chicago             18.2%
Ketia Swanier by Atlanta         9.1%
Sharnee Zoll by Los Angeles    9.1%
Ticha Penicheiro by Chicago   9.1%
Tina Thompson by Seattle        9.1%
Temeka Johnson by Tulsa        9.1%
Noelle Quinn by Washington   9.1%
Kelly Miller by New York       9.1%

I agree that Bass did her thing for the Sun in preseason and could potentially be a secret weapon in some close games.  With that said, I don't think Riley will be as much of a factor for the Sky as Swanier will be for Atlanta.   I can picture the underrated Swanier filling an crucial void left by Izi Marques.   With her on the roster, Atlanta retains its quickness and adds perhaps better shooting efficiency.  It makes perfect sense (though Ericka DeSouza not being with the team for a good portion will hurt).

-WNBA Jones
 




Tuesday, May 15, 2012

PRESEASON ROOKIE WATCH: MOVE OVER, NNEKA

                                            
"STRICKLEE" BUSINESS
STORM'S SHEKINNA STRICKLEN
COULD STEAL NNEKA'S SHINE


Shekinna Stricklen put up 15 points against the Los Angeles Sparks in a tight preseason matchup that had the Seattle edging LA 61-60.   Also grabbed 4 boards.  I think she'll be pivotal in helping Sue Bird hold things down while Lauren Jackson is away Down Under.




                
RIQUNA WILLIAMS

I knew Riquna would do well but when she dropped 17 points against the Dream I thought she could make All Rookie Team.   In her second games she racked up 10 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 steals against the Storm.



 GLORY JOHNSON

Had the same point total as teammate Riquna battling Seattle but with 5 steals and 3 assists.  Earlier in preseason she had 11 pts and 5 rebounds versus the Dream.  Safe to say Tulsa won't be 3-31 this season.


 
 
SHENISE JOHNSON

Yeah.  Got 11 points to go against the Fever the first time around (May 5th).  Got 15 more against the Fever the second go w/4 rebounds and 3 assists as side orders.  She will be fun to watch.  I'd have Tully B. coming off the bench and Shenise starting if I were Dan Hughes.



  
KATELAN REDMON

Don't know if she'll make the roster but nothing can take away her 10 points and 3 boards for the Liberty against the Sun May 7th. 


 

 SAMANTHA PRAHALIS

Expect lots of no-look passes that would make
Ticha Penicheiro proud.  In 19 minutes of play, "Styles P", as they call her dished off 7 passes to go along with her 7 points against the Japanese Team.
 


 NATALIE NOVOSEL

Natalie Novosel collected a surprising 6 rebounds against the Connecticut Sun in recent preseason play.


Ladies and gentlemen, the woman's pro game is a hard fought game -- even before the regular season starts.   Very cutthroat.    Only 12 teams and 11 spots per roster.  The best of the best.   And yet some of the best may still not get a chance.  While I salute these players I ask that the WNBA keep expansion on its list of priorities while avoiding the earlier mistakes made by branching out too much too soon.  

Now go on with your bad self.

-WNBA Jones 


Friday, May 11, 2012

THE WNBA'S DARK HORSE PLAYERS

  


A STAR IS BORN
2011'S DARK HORSE DANIELLE ADAMS
 
The dark horses.  We all know them.  They're apparent in every sport -- players least expected to come up big who end up doing exactly that.  Telling from this year's pre-season, I've put together a list of such underestimated achievers.  Star players and this year's first round draft picks don't count in this list.  Those women are expected to do well.
 

  
ALEXIS GRAY-LAWSON
 (PHX)
GUARD

When we think about the Phoenix Mercury, Taurasi, Taylor and Dupree are likely to be the first players who pop into our minds.  But Gray-Lawson's 34 points against the Japanese team on May 8th could change that, especially with Taylor out this season.   At only 5'8" she plays much bigger.  It would be interesting if Coach Corey Gaines gives her a good amount of playing time. 

  

MISTIE BASS
  (CONN) 
FORWARD


Mistie's been in the league awhile with the Houston and Chicago but hadn't really made her presence felt.  If given decent minutes, she could contribute significantly to The Sun.   In just under 20 minutes, she scored 12 points with 6 rebounds and 4 assists against the defending champion Lynx on May 10th.  Not bad for the daughter of famous R&B singer Chubby Checker.




 RONEEKA HODGES 
(IND)
GUARD

Scored 16 points against her old team San Antonio Stars on May 5th.  Dropped 10 against them four days later.  Never heard her name mentioned before, but she plays with determination and could be very effective when Katie Douglas and Briann January are on the bench.



NATASHA LACY
(WAS)
GUARD

Sunk 10 points and grabbed 6 rebounds against the Sky this past Thursday.  Didn't think the Sparks would trade her but she did have her ups and downs and sometimes a particular team and a certain player are simply not the right fit for each other.
  If her FT% improves, her contribution to the the Mystics could be very valuable this year.  We shall see.




MONIQUE CURRIE
(WAS)
FORWARD

Currie is back and healthy and after a disappointing season last year, the Mystics could certainly use her all of her talent.  She scored 12 points against the Sky on May 10th and went 4 for 4 from the charity strike.  With Marissa Coleman gone (a mistake made by the Mystics, I thought),  I'd look for Currie's production to increase, perhaps to career highs.


  
 
VICTORIA DUNLAP
(SEA)
FORWARD

Made an impressive showing with 13 points against the new and improved Tulsa Shock on May 11th.   No player can truly fill Swin Cash's shoes,  but Dunlap could play an important role throughout the season.   We'll see how Coach Agler utilizes her.





LAURIE KOEHN
(ATL) 
GUARD

First she was in the WNBA then she wasn't -- getting cut by the Mystics and then playing overseas for Poland.  Though Poland played poorly, she was one of their few bright spots, dropping close to 18 points a game.  Fast forward and now she's with the Atlanta Dream.   She scored 21 points, all from downtown, against the Shock this past Saturday.  This is a welcome surprise for Atlanta primarily because the team isn't known for their 3 pt shooting.   Looks to me like a welcome backcourt addition to Lindsay Harding, Tiffany Hayes and guard/forward Angel McCoughtry.
 

- WNBA Jones