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 22, 2011

Guru's WNBA Report: Indiana's Subs Torpedo Washington

(Guru's note: Below this post is much information about the WNBA ballot for fans to pick the players to the WNBA 15th anniversary team. And below that is the report from Tuesday's Philly summer league games. If you are in melgreenberg.com just click on the Mel's blog button on the left to get to everything.)

By Mel Greenberg

The nuances of a short 34-game season in the WNBA usually means that once the hoopla over the start of another summer of competition begins to subside, depending how teams negotiate the first week or so, talk soon centers on who is ready to hit the panic button.

Each of the five games played Tuesday had a suggestion of such a situation, especially here.

The Indiana Fever arrived here off a rugged coast-to-coast three-game road trip carrying a two-game losing streak, angst over giving one up Sunday to the Phoenix Mercury in overtime, and the knowledge that All-Star Katie Douglas would have to be rested on the side of caution after injuring her lower back Sunday in a fall late in the first quarter.

Besides, Douglas’ mouth always begins to water when it comes to facing her former Connecticut Sun squad that will visit Indianapolis Saturday night.

So Indiana seemed ripe as the perfect foe to help the Washington Mystics get some traction that has been hard to come by with Alana Beard still sidelined since the start of the season with a sprained left foot.

All seemed well and good at the outset as the Mystics roared to a 24-13 lead at the end of the first quarter. But then the Fever bench represented by former Pitttsburgh star Shavonte Zellous and former Ohio State star Jessica Davenport came to life and gathered more strength with rookie Jeanette Pohlen out of Stanford.

The Fever (4-3) rallied with a 29-15 second quarter and never stopped until the final score in the Verizon Center showed them winning 89-80 as the defending Eastern co-champions of the regular season fell to 1-5.

Zellous scored 21 points, Davenport scored 18 as did Briann January, who had struggled against Phoenix.

One might say nothing like a hot night from January on the first day of summer in June.

All-Star Tamika Catchings had 15 points while Pohlen finished with eight points.

All told the Fever subs outscored the Mystics bench, 52-19.

Washington got 23 points from the Mystics’ usual strength in former Maryland star Crystal Langhorne while rookie Karima Christmas out of Duke scored 13 off the bench. Former Rutgers star Matee Ajavon, picking up minutes with Beard on the sidelines, scored 17 points and Kelly Miller scored 10 points.

“I thought we really started out sluggish,” Fever coach Lin Dunn said. “This was our third game in five days all the way across America.

“I thought we made some adjustments, put some high energy players in there defensively, some players that really hadn’t got a lot of minutes across the trip.

“And then I thought we really started defending much better. I thought we did a good job on their 3’s – they only hit three (3-for-16), I thought we really worked hard to make it hard for Langhorne and (Nicky) Anosike to catch in the paint and then I thought we really executed our offense.”

Zellous said of her big night, “`Coach always says you never know when your opportunity is going to present itself and tonight was my opportunity.

“Our team goal is to focus on our defense first so we can create our offense off our defense. I think I was able to do that as soon as I got into the game and I was able to knock down shots.”

Meanwhile Langhorne admits the losses are frustrating but she is not ready to grab the panic button even as Washington keeps slipping further behind the Eastern pack.

“You can’t help but feel frustrated after games,” she said. “But like I said, we’re learning, we have new people, I believe we’re going to keep getting better as the season goes on.

“We’re going to stay positive. We’re not going to give up. We’re going to keep playing,” Langhorne added. “I’m the only starter from last year. So when you look at that, what do you expect? We’re going to keep playing, but it’s been tough.”

It’s been the same way for the Eastern playoff champion Atlanta Dream, which until Tuesday afternoon had only one win.

But the Dream cashed in against the Chicago Sky with a last-minute replacement in Courtney Paris, who is filling a spot while Sancho Lyttle is off to Spain to play in an Olympic qualifying tournament and be away for six games.

Paris, the former Oklahoma star who was cut twice the last two seasons by the Los Angeles Sparks had nine points and eight rebounds behind Angel McCoughtry’s 14 points and the Dream (2-5) got out of the basement with a 71-68 win over the visiting Sky.

Sylvia Fowles had 21 points for the Sky (3-3) who have lost two straight after winning three in a row. Former James Madison star Tamera Young scored 14 points off the bench for Chicago, which hosts first-place Connecticut Thursday night for the third game in 12 days against the Sun.

Fifteen years ago Tuesday the New York Liberty beat the Los Angeles Sparks on the west coast in the inaugural game of the WNBA.

The outcome was reversed Tuesday and the Liberty may not be far from reaching panic mode, though as the West showed last year medicore teams can make the playoffs if they are all in bad shape.

DeLisha Milton-Jones scored 27 for Los Angeles in the 96-91 victory that improved the Sparks to 4-1 while the Liberty fell to 2-4 with a four-game losing streak.

The two teams will meet again Sunday in Newark, N.J.

Candace Parker, the former Tennessee superstar, added 21 points and 13 rebounds to the Sparks attack while former Maryland star Kristi Toliver scored 16 points and veteran Tina Thompson scored 14.

Former Rutgers all-American Cappie Pondexter had 22 points for the Liberty.

The Phoenix Mercury, which dropped their first three games, won their second straight and removed San Antonio’s claim as the last unbeaten WNBA team with a 105-98 win in Texas as Penny Taylor scored 20 points and former Temple star Candice Dupree had 20 points and 13 rebounds in the Alamo city in Texas.

The Mercury overcame a bad shooting night by its superstar Diana Taurasi, who was 2-for-13 from the field and scored just seven points.

Kara Braxton had 15 points and Temeka Johnson scored 14.

San Antonio’s Becky Hammon scored 28 points for the Silver Stars (4-1), whose loss enabled the idle Minnesota Lynx to take sole possession of first place in the Western Conference.

Danielle Adams, the most outstanding player of the NCAA Women’s Final Four after leading Texas A&M to the Aggies’ first national title, scored 22 points. There’s obvious no reason for panic by San Antonio, which was without Sophia Young, who was ill.

Seattle owned the league a year ago but the Storm has been struggling early in the season and had to rally to beat the Tulsa Shock 82-77 in Oklahoma as former UConn teammates Sue Bird scored 21 points and Swin Cash scored 17.

Seattle is 3-2 but Tulsa, which had just won a game, fell to 1-6.

The Storm may panic if Lauren Jackson’s injury is serious. She left at the half after earlier hurting her hip.

Tiffany Jackson had 20 points and 10 rebounds for Tulsa.

The league is idle Wednesday night.

-- Mel


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المصدر :

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