Womhoops Guru

Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

WNBA: Hitting The Mid-Stretch With Fireworks Galore

By Mel Greenberg

The WNBA won't be in action on the actual July Fourth holiday but the league will offer plenty of fireworks in the days before and immediately after prior to the All-Star game as teams hit the mid-stretch this week trying to solidify their grab for playoff spots.

At the moment as has been noted, the only team that appears in clinching mode way early, injuries notwithstanding, is the Seattle Storm, which is running away at the toip of the Western Conference with such ease that the domination has helped create a situation where no other team has a winning record.

However, anything is possible ifor the most partin how the other three teams land berths for the postseason.

The East, a weak sister conference inthe overall picture in seasons past but not recently, has a logjam at the top wih New York and Chicago trying to get closer to the conference playoff contenders.

Atlanta got off to a fast start but Washington, Indiana, and Connecticut are locked together in second place only 1.5 games behind the Dream.

This week, there's a slew of games on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, but nothing scheduled on the other days through Monday.

Rather then day-by-day -- five games Tuesday by the way -- let''s quickly run through things on a team-by-team basis.,

The East

Atlanta could help itself further with the biggest threat being Tuesday night's visit from the defending WNBA champion Phoenix Mercury, which has Diana Taurasi on a day-by-day injury status in the wake of Sunday's tumble on her tailbone in Washington.
The Dream's other two games are a home date Thursday against the injury-riddled Minnesota Lynx and then at home again Saturday against the Chicago Sky.

Washington and Indiana, hoping for some help Tuesday night from Phoenix, meet each other in the nation's capital at the Verizon Center with the winner staying in at least second place. In the case of Indiana, it's the only game the Fever will play this week.
The Mystics, who have been getting outstanding work from Willingboro, N.J.'s Crystal Langhorne -- the former Maryland star who is the Eastern Conference player of the week, then head to Phoenix Thursday and onto Tulsa on Saturday.

Connecticut, the other second-place team, is in Tulsa against the Shock Tuesday night looking to recover from Sunday's meltdown in the second half against New York in Madison Square Garden. In Tulsa's previous existence as Detroit in the East, the Sun-Shock rilvalry was among the best in the league. But this is no longer the mighty bunch from Motown so a win is imperative for the Sun.
Then it's on to Chicago Thursday against a Sky team that got Connecticut a week ago at home -- the only loss to date in the Mohegan Sun Arena.

New York, off its rally to a win Sunday, is in Los Angeles Tuesday night looking to keep the momentun going against a Sparks team desperate to get some kind of win streak going to move into playoff contention. Holding a dreadful 3-10 record, it won't take much to get things done in the West, however. The Liberty finish up Saturday with a visit to Phoenix, so it is a challenge to move closer to the playoff position leaders. A hot Connecticut week and an inability to keep pace will drop the Liberty further behind in the hunt.

Chicago, in even worse shape than New York, has its hands full with Thursday night's visit from Connecticut and a trip to Atlanta on Saturday.

The West

Seattle can move ahead by another length Tuesday night, hosting the San Antonio Silver Stars and then its off to Los Angeles Saturday for another game against the Sparks. Coach Brian Agler will also be heading the WNBA squad next week against the USA team at the All-Star game in Connecticut.

As for the Sliver Stars, besides tonight's game, there's a visit Thursday to Los Angeles, which will be looking to close the gap with the playoff conrenders in the West.

Phoenix has a three-game opportunity but it won't be easy with Tuesday night's visit to Atlanta, followed by Washington's trip to the desert to meet the Mercury Thursday and then New York's visit on Saturday.

Minnesota, trying to keep Los Angeles and Tulsa from shoving past the Lynx, has one game and a tough one at that with Thursday's visit to Atlants.

Los Angeles, right behind Minnesota, has three games to reverse direction: -- Tuesday night;s visit from New York, Thursday's visit from San Antonio, and Saturday's appearance in the Staples Center by Seattle. Not an easy week for the Sparks but they're approaching now or never urgency.

Tulsa, in theory, is close enough to Minnesota and Los Angeles to not be a lost cause. But this week's we're talking abiout Tuesday night's visit from Connecticut and Saturday's visit from Washington.

That;s the way it is heading to the holiday weekend.

--Mel (who has figured out how to do fonts with the iPad in this post)

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