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.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

WNBA: Seattle Payback Brutal

By Mel Greenberg

Apparently it is not nice to be the worst team in the WNBA and upset the best team without suffering significant effects of the fallout in the next matchup.

Just ask the forlorn Tulsa Shock (5-24), which until this season was known as the mighty Detroit franchise that motored its way to three WNBA titles.

Tulsa had upset Seattle in Oklahoma earlier in the week and the Storm lived up to their nickname Saturday night in the ensuing rematch in the Northwest in one of just two WNBA games on the slate.

Seattle (24-4), which had recently hit a two-game losing streak that deprived the Storm of matching or passing virtually all the season domination records set by the former Houston Comets in 1998 finally passed the Texans in one category to set an all-time WNBA record.

The 111-65 win over the Shock eclipsed by one point a Houston win over the Washington Mystics in 1998 setting a record for the all-time lopsided score. Because it was Tulsa maybe an asterisk should be put on the record.

The score, which was very UConnesque, was helped by two former Huskies leading the Storm to the rout.

Svetlana Abrosimova, one of two Russians to play for UConn, came off the bench to score 20 points for the Storm while Swin Cash added 18 points.

The other by the way was actually Rebecca Lobo Rushin -- hey a little Guru humor after making the reverse Elena Delle Donne midnight ride to Connecticut for Sunday's game and claiming a Red Roof room upon getting to the area at 4 a.m.

Former North Carolina guard sensation Ivory Latta had 14 points for Tulsa, which trailed 60-27 at the half and has lost 9 of 10 and 21 of 23 games.

Cash was quoted afterwards saying she implored her teammates to keep the foot on the pedal from the outset although it is apparent that Tulsa has been on fumes and gassed for weeks in the wake of the multitude of ex-Detroit players no longer on the Shock roster.

In the other WNBA game Saturday night, Minnesota (10-16) isn't doing things easy but the Linx are finding ways to stay in the playoff hunt. They are also in the draft lottery hunt, but more about that in a second.

Minnesota was a little creative in its Saturday visit to the suburban Windy City, beating the Chicago Sky 87-82 in overtime. Instead of blowing a lead this time as occurred in several recent games, the Lynx rallied from a 16-point deficit against the Sky (12-17).

Former LSU star Seimone Augustus scored 27 points for Minnesota, including a critical three-pointer at the finish, while Lindsay Whalen scored 19 points.

Jia Perkins scored 16 points for the Sky, who have been drifting away from the logjam ahead of them and deeper in the sixth and last place position in the Eastern Conference.

Which brings us to the side topic that Saturday was apparently Maya Moore night in the WNBA, though the UConn senior and likely No. 1 pick was nowhere near either game.

If the Guru's sunrise math is correct, Chicago and Tulsa's magic number is one to be eliminated from the playoffs and officially slotted for the draft lottery among the four WNBA non-postseason teams that will have a shot at winning the No. 1 pick leading to Moore's selection.

It may only be a three-team competition because Minnesota could have two shots by not making the playoffs and if Connecticut doesn't qualify. The Lynx own the Sun pick courtesy of a draft day trade in April between Minnesota and Connecticut that saw the Sun send their 2011 first-round pick to Minnesota for former Nebraska star Kelsey Griffin.

At this hour either the Los Angeles Sparks or San Antonio Silver Stars could be the lottery picks. Technically, other teams could fade down the stretch over the next two final weeks of the regular season but they are much closer to the postseason than next season.

Minnesota's win put the Lynx in third place in the West, a half-game ahead of Lods Angeles and San Antonio, who are tied for fourth at 10-17, though they are 13.5 games behind Seattle. The Lynx trail the Storm by 13 games, while second-place Phoenix, the defending WNBA champion Mercury, has been on a tear recently and is 9.5 games behind the Storm.

On Sunday here Washington visits Connecticut at 5 p.m., a must-win situation for the host Sun. The two will quickly rematch Tuesday in the nation's capital.

The revitalized New York Liberty (16-11), in a tie with Washington for third and one game behind the Indiana Fever and Atlanta Dream, will visit Minnesota. The Liberty are now driving on first place while Minnesota's siutation has been explained.

In a rematch of last season's WNBA finals the Indiana Fever (17-10) will visit the scene of last season's title game demise when they play Phoenix (14-13).

Indiana needs the win to expand on its slim first-place perecentage point lead over Atlanta (19-11), which did not play Saturday and is not scheduled Sunday.

Phoenix is close to gaining a playoff spot after recently becoming the second West team to finally land a winning record in the Western Conference.

San Antonio visits Los Angeles in a game that will break the fourth-place tie, but a Silver Stars win will also give them the season series over the Sparks.

The Guru will return on press row -- and trust him, will also upgrade to a more elaborate hotel for Sunday night -- at game time in the Mohegan Sun Arena to tweet the action @womhoopsguru and blog the game to lead the next roundup.

Between now and then the Guru may work the lobster shift -- the culinary one depending on the Washington GM's plans for the pregame meal ahead of the always delightful Sun served pregame meal.

-- Mel

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