Guru WNBA/Summer League Report: Teams With Zeros Collide/Getting Organized
Friday's night's quartet of games on the WNBA schedule features a battle zeros involving the early best and early worst of the competition.
By the time all four games become part of the record, there will be one less team without a loss and one less team without a win when the Sun comes up Saturday morning.
In terms of excellence, the defending champion Minnesota Lynx (5-0) will visit the Connecticut Sun (3-0) in the first of their two East-West crossover games with both teams currently unbeaten as is the idle Indiana Fever (3-0), who next host the winless New York Liberty Saturday night in the first of two back-to-back weekend games between the two.
Minnesota is coming in off a narrow escape out of Washington (1-2) on Wednesday night proving in the WNBA the foot must stay on the pedal pushing it to the medal for 40 minutes.
Connecticut is fueled by an opening weekend sweep of New York.
Last season Minnesota and the Sun split with each winning at home. The Lynx, forging their eventual title machine, took a 90-67 win in July before the Sun got revenge 108-79 the following month.
So even if the news out of the Mohegan Sun's Wolf Den, one of the free entertainment venues at the casino omplex, revealed Thursday that the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band had to cancel its Friday visit because of a family situation, one can see most of the current WNBA's nitty gritty perform in the arena.
The Lynx, who won at Mohegan in a preseason game several weeks ago, are the favorite, though All-Star and Olympian Tina Charles, a former UConn All-American, did not play in that earlier meeting due to a groin injury.
A Connecticut win could be an early indication the Sun won't be setting anytime soon and either way a chance to keep pace at the top of the East will be just around the bend Sunday for coach Mike Thibault's team when Washington visits following the Mystics' road trip to the Chicago Sky on Friday.
If the previous game is about life at the top, the Tulsa Shock (0-4) visits the Seattle Storm (0-3) in a game that means after the outcome is determined, only two teams, including New York, will still be winless.
Though Tulsa won just three games last season and are off to an 0-4 start under new coach Gary Kloppenburg, the former Indiana assistant, the Shock have been in the hunt in all four games, making one wonder what the record might be if Australian youngster Liz Cambage, away till after the Olympics to be with her national team, would be currently with the Oklahomans.
Cambage was the second pick in the 2011 draft. Tulsa is coming off a heartbreaking loss in which former Maryland star Kristi Tolliver overcame her 14-turnover struggle to nail a three-pointer at the buzzer Tuesday night to give the Los Angeles Sparks a one-point victory.
Tulsa has been causing a slew of turnovers and Seattle, which is missing its Australian Olympian -- All-Star Lauren Jackson -- is struggling mightily. Considering, as we keep saying here all season, piling losses lead to a lucractive draft pick, this is one of the lottery specials on the weekend.
The next game is in San Antonio (1-2), where the Silver Stars will be hosting the Phoenix Mercury (1-3). This also is a lottery special, although the Western four that is being separated early from frontrunning Minnesota and Los Angeles, means two of them will have to make the playoffs, no matter how bad they area.
Phoenix, already missing Penny Taylor for the season due to an injury, didn't have Diana Taurasi because of a hip flexor in Thursday's loss at Atlanta.
Finally, Chicago (2-1), looking more like being playoff bound for the first time in the Sky's seven-year history, hosts Washington with one win over the Mystics already achieved last month in the season opener for both.
A Sky win puts a bit more distance from the bottom, while Washington, perhaps inspired from its 25-point rally to scare Minnesota, can take a win to avoid drifting further behind all but New York.
Philly Summer League Gets Organized
The first steps leading to the annual Philadelphia/Suburban NCAA Women's Summer League competition, which begins June 19 and, for the most part, will consist of three doubleheaders on Tuesday and Thursday nights, were taken Thursday night with the annual draft.
Because of the nature of the way things get done, the Guru cannot offer a normal understandable draft story -- though what the league officials produce somehow works.
Longtime commissioner David B. Kessler came supplied with the lists of applicants at the site of the summer competition -- the Kelly Bolish Gym, home of the AAU Renegades, in Hatboro, Pa., outside Philadelphia in Lower Bucks County.
The number of interested players will actually create an increase of 0ne to a field of 12 teams and roster sizes are still being tinkered with. The process went the smoothest yet, according to those who participated.
There's a limit on the number of Division I players fron a similar school on each team, per NCAA regulations, though schools from the lower Divisions can compete together as is the case of Division II Philadelphia University, featuring Taylor Peltzer, Kristen Blye, and Samantha Morris, among many; Division II Holy Family, featuring Erin Mann and Ana Cruz; and Division II West Chester, for example.
Several teams had their rosters mostly pre-determined such as the defending champions of last summer, coached by Ted Hagedorn, whose daughter Elle plays for Harvard. The squad also includes recent St. Joseph's grad Katie Kuester, Villanova's Megan Pearson and Devon Kane, former St. Bonaventure star Dana Mitchell, and Lafayette's Alicia Manning.
Players can request to be paired together prior to the draft, though, as mentioned, there is a limit on the players from the same university playing together.
An exception is incoming freshmen are not in the limitation count so it's possible for four St. Joseph's players, for example, to be together if two are freshmen.
Those not already assigned became part of the 65-players in the draft who had submitted applications. Incidentally, though May 26th was the deadline and though the commissioner is not exactly thrilled about busting it, in the interest of completing squads, if anyone reading this still would like to play, send the Guru a note and he'll direct you to the commissioner.
Once the completed rosters are sent around, the Guru will post them here and again provide ongoing coverage, considering there are few conficts with WNBA nights, though if the Guru is with the pros, results will be forwarded.
In fact, anyone who wishes to do stories and features for the blog -- exposure opportunity but not, unfortunately, revenue just yet -- contact the Guru.
Teams will be known by a particular color, such as Team Lime Green, etc. Former Temple star Ashley Morris will be a player-coach.
There were a large number of applications from Villanova, St. Joseph's, Lehigh, Lafayette as well as several other collegiate teams.
Here's some of names that were on either the assigned or draftable lists, including a Delaware player -- no, not that one.
Which reminds the Guru, as a public service to the Elena Delle Donne brood, if you all want to check out potential squads that may end up picking up the Delaware superstar next April, here's the schedule of Western teams that could be in the lottery in terms of visits to Conecticut, New York and Washington after this weekend.
In the East, in terms of two potential lottery franchises, any Washington or New York game at home will do unless either team becomes playoff worthy and then the Guru will supply other likely East visits from Chicago, Atlanta or Indiana, should they not be in playoff contention in August.
After this weekend:
San Antonio at Wash., July 6 (2-for-1); New York, July 8 (2-for-1),
Seattle at Wash., June 26 (2-for-1); at NY, June 30 (2-for-1); at Connecticut, July 1.
Phoenix at Wash, July 1 (2-for-1) at New York, Sept. 5 (2-for-1?); at Conn, Sept. 7.
Tulsa at Connecticut, Aug, 21; at New York, Sept. 22 (2-for-1?).
OK, With that done, here is some of the players participating this summer in Hatboro.
Taylor Bryant -- Delaware incoming freshman
Alex Wheatley -- Princeton incoming freshman
Kathryn Stockbower -- Former Swarthmore star
Emily Leer -- Villanova sophomore
Rachel Roberts -- Villanova senior
Addie Micir -- Former Princeton star
Aly Byorick -- Recent Lehigh grad
Ashley Wood -- Kutztown senior
Emily Homan -- Lafayette sophomore
Ashley Prim -- St. Joseph's senior
Ilze Gotfrida -- St. Joseph's sophomore
Jordan Strode -- St. Joseph's freshman
Erin Shields -- St. Joseph's junior
Clara Andrews -- St. Joseph's freshman
Sarah Fairbanks -- St. Joseph's freshman
Shelby Smith -- St. Joseph's senior
Danielle Callahan -- Boston U. senior
Jessica Sylvester -- University of Sciences '17
Kaitlyn Schmid -- USP sophomore
Stephanie Keyes -- West Chester sophomore
That's it for now. The Guru will be making a quick up and back to Connecticut Friday for the Minnesota game.
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