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.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

WNBA: The Wright Stuff For Lynx - LJ Fuels Storm

(Guru's note: This post quickly recaps Tuesday and then updates the look-ahead from the previous post to reflect Tuesday's action).
By Mel Greenberg

A highly touted WNBA rookie and a longtime MVP veteran were the stories Tuesday night as the Minnesota Lynx gave their fans the first home win of the season and the Seattle Storm won the battle of early season conference frontrunners by handing the visiting Atlanta Dream their first loss in 2010.

Former Virginia star Monica Wright came off the bench after Minnesota injuries had previously thrust her into a starter’s role and scored a career-high 32 points as the Lynx captured their first home game, snapping an overall five-game losing streak by beating the defending champion Phoenix Merrcury 92-72

Meanwhile, Australian superstar Lauren Jackson scored 32 points and 10 rebounds as Seattle improved to 6-1 with A 90-72 win over Atlanta that dropped the Dream to a similar record.

Wright was the second overall pick of the WNBA draft in April. Minnesota also welcomed former Stanford star Candice Wiggins back to action for the first time since knee surgery for an injury suffered in the offseason playing in Greece. She had eight points, including a pair of three-pointers, in 15 minutes of action.

Minnesota was expected to be vastly improved this season with the addition of Wright as well as former Georgetown star Rebekkah Brunson, who was picked second in the dispersal draft of the former Sacramento Monarchs roster.

The Lynx also gained hometown girl Lindsay Whalen, the former University of Minnesota star, who was acquired in the blockbuster trade that brought the WNBA All-Star back to the Twin Cities from the Connecticut Sun in exchange for former UConn star guard Renee Montgomery and the rights to the No. 1 pick of April’s draft. The selection was used to take Tina Charles, the consensus national player of the year who helped lead UConn to a second straight unbeaten season.

But before the season got under way, new coach Cheryl Reeve learned she would have to navigate the early action without Wiggins as well as former LSU star Seimone Augustus, who is due to return within a week from surgery also.

Minnesota won its opener in Tulsa against the Shock, the former Detroit team transformed into a pseudo expansion outfit. The Lynx then went onto a five-game slide, the last two setbacks of which were by lopsided margines.

Seattle has two key conference clashes later this week with the Los Angeles Sparks and Phoenix looking to solidify its fast start even further.

Atlanta will try to return to winning ways with a quick home stop Friday night against Chicago and then on to a key game Saturday in Washington against the Mystics. (We had Chicago hosting in an earlier post so it must have been the Guru’s eyes crossing late at night reading the WNBA schedule).

Minnesota visits Tulsa Friday and then will host the Indiana Fever Sunday to finish the week while Phoenix will host Los Angeles Friday and then travel to Seattle Sunday.

Looking Ahead Elsewhere This Week

The San Antonio Silver Stars visit the Indiana Fever Thursday night in a singleton on the WNBA slate.

The Silver Stars had a big win after the arrival of Chamique Holdsclaw, who was let go by Atlanta after demanding a trade and not showing up for training camp. But San Antonio has since lost a couple.

The Fever at 2-3 has a sweep of Chicago in their two early contest but nada against the rest of the league. No time to panic but in what will be a tight race to fill the playoff spots one doesn't want to to lose any "Ws" that should have been attainable.

Friday has a four-spot on the night's slate.

Chicago visits Atlanta in a game the Sky could use to get closer to the rest of the East and make a little noise about being the second team this week to beat the Dream. A recent win over Seattle brought the Storm down from the unbeaten column.

The New York Liberty visit Connecticut in a game in which the host Sun will be looking to recover from Sunday's loss in Washington and the Liberty trying to maintain momentum as a major improvement over 2009.

It's the first of five between these two Eastern rivals and each one will be signifcant at the end in determining playoff positioning. Although both teams could easily make postseason, obviously the wins help prevent elimination in a tight race at the finish for spots.

Minnesota at Tulsa for a second visit with the Lynx looking to repeat their opening night win and look to stay on winning ways after beating Phoenix Tuesday at home to stop a five-game slide. The Shock continue to try to show they may not be a doormat for the rest of the WNBA.

Los Angeles visits Phoenix and after the Sparks thumping by Atlanta and an exciting but losing effort on opening day against the Mercury, it's a great chance to start getting some traction in the West.

On Saturday comes another intriguing four-spot.

Washington, hosting Atlanta as previously mentioned, will be looking to take advantage of a favorable June schedule that will see the Mystics leave the Verizon Center just twice for a pair of trips to Chicago. The Dream will be in a back-to-back setting having hosted Chicago on Friday night.

The Liberty visits Indiana with New York coming right out of Friday night's trip to Connecticut. A road sweep could mean the women of Manhattan are ready for the long haul. Indy could use this one especially if the Fever fall earlier in the week.

Tulsa visits Chicago, which will be in the second of a back-to-back but might be caught napping a bit if the Sky top Atlanta on Friday night. For the Shock any win is a good win.

Seattle visits Los Angeles and forget the 2010 implications of the moment, it's always a war when these two Western Conference rivals meet. Obviously, the Sparks will be either maintaining new momentum off an earlier win in the week or looking to kick things in gear if the 1-4 has become 1-5 on Los Angeles' body of work enterting the contest.

The Sparks will be returning home on a back-to-back from Friday's visit to Phoenix. Obviously a two-nights sweep speaks for itself.

Sunday will offer a trio of games to finish out the week.

San Antonio visits Connecticut with the Sun hoping to have completed a weekend sweep by having beaten New York at home on Friday night. Otherwise, time to get back on the horse, while the Silver Stars will be looking for a nice win at Mohegan.

Indiana visits Minnesota and what occurs earlier in the week will bring this game into better focus. Both teams have gotten off to ragged starts bringing some urgency on each squad.

Phoenix visits Seattle, which returns home from its Saturday trip to Los Angeles. It's Just another great tussle among Western Conference foes but think of even how more formisable the Storm could be with a perfect week. Phoenix needs to fine-tune a bit or more than a bit after starting the week with a loss at Minnesota on Tuesday.

-- Mel

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