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, September 18, 2012

Guru's WNBA Report: Connecticut Sun Collect East Top Seed On Maya Moore's Career Night Miles Away

(Guru's note: As similar terminology was once used on one of those celebrity poker shows, this post involves the winners' circle and playoff hunt.

But if you scroll to the post below, you will arrive in the losers' lounge, where the real winners might exist, in a discussion of where things stand in the great draft lottery race.)

By Mel Greenberg

A WNBA career night by former UConn sensation Maya Moore carried the Connecticut Sun to the top seed in the forthcoming Eastern Conference playoffs Monday night realizing a dream many Huskies fans once harbored during her collegiate days.

The only hitch is that Moore and the Sun were in different geographical locations.

The Connecticut squad (23-9) was returning home from a successful, but gritty, finish to a three-game road trip out West in which the Sun went 2-1 after a narrow 60-58 win at the end of regulation over the Seattle Storm.

Moore, meanwhile, torched visiting Indiana with a career-high 29 points to lead the defending WNBA champions to an 86-79 win over the Fever (20-11) in Minneapolis.

So credit Moore for enabling the Sun to walk on clouds after their cross-country flight landed while she also made the rest of the week somewhat simplier for Connecticut.

The Sun host the Fever at the Mohegan Sun Arena Wednesday night but instead of a battle to keep the East race at the top alive, it will be more about getting playoff ready, though Connecticut will still be looking to take the East regular season crown outright.

A year ago the two teams finished tied atop the East but Indiana got the No. 1 seed by dominating Connecticut in the season series.

The two could tie again -- the Sun finish Sunday hosting the Atlanta Dream while Indiana moves on to visit the Washington Mystics Friday night and then host the Tulsa Shock Sunday.

But in the worst case scenario for Connecticut -- being tied in both standings and conference record -- tiebreaker No. 3 is the charm.

Under WNBA procedures, if record or conference record doesn't do the job, the next move to b reak ties for the playoffs is comparing records against teams .500 or better.

When one breaks ties for the draft lottery, however, everything is done in reverse.

There are not many .500 plus squads in the 12-team league -- just four others besides the Sun and Fever, though if New York (14-17) wins at the San Antonio Silver Stars Tuesday night and then wins at Tulsa Thursday and hosting Tulsa Saturday in Newark, N.J., the Liberty become part of the equation at .500.

That run would certainly also put New York into the playoffs, opening the best-of-three first round affair against the Sun, which beat the Liberty 4-1 during the season.

It would also relegate the Chicago Sky (13-18), who are at Seattle Tuesday night trailing New York by a game for fourth, into the lucractive draft lottery but also making it 0-for-7 in attempts to reach the playoffs since joining the league as an expansion unit in 2006.

Indiana, which lost to Atlanta in last year's Eastern final, will have homecourt advantgage over the Dream in the other conference semifinal.

New York or Chicago would have to be extra lucky in the lottery because either team would have the fourth and least best chance at having the ping pong balls bounce in their direction to offer the three prized projected picks -- Baylor's Brittney Griner, likely No. 1 out of the defending NCAA champions; Delaware's Elena Delle Donne, right there alongside of Griner; and Notre Dame's Skylar Diggins.

More about the lottery in which Washington (5-27) has clinched the best shot at the No. 1 pick is in a post below this one.

Back to the Connecticut-Indiana tiebreaker scenario, the Sun's record against the teams .500 or better, which means losing both games this week or we wouldn't be having this discussion, is 7-7 or 11-8 if New York finishes at 17-17.

Indiana, by comparison, which means winning all three games this week, is 6-9 against the .500 or better teams or 9-10 if New York is in the mix.

Here's the breakdown if a tie was reached by the weekend:

Connecticut vs.
Indiana 2-2 -- assumes loss Wednesday
Atlanta 2-2 -- assumes loss Sunday
Minnesota 1-1
Los Angeles 0-2
San Antonio 2-0
*New York 4-1 if the Liberty finish 17-17.

Indiana vs.
Connecticut 2-2 -- assumes win Wednesday
Atlanta 3-2
Minnesota 0-2
Los Angeles 0-2
San Antonio 1-1
*New York 3-2 if the Liberty finish 17-17.

So the deal makers for the Sun appear to be the win at Minnesota and the sweep of San Antonio.

Meanwhile, in completing the playoff cards, if San Antonio loses to New York Tuesday night or the Los Angeles Sparks win against the visiting Phoenix Mercury, Los Angeles gets the second seed in the Western Conference and homecourt advantage against the Silver Stars.

Minnesota, repeating as the No. 1 seed in the West after gaining a first-ever positive for everything during Moore's rookie 2011 season, will host Seattle in the other semifinal.

San Antonio could catch L.A. in a second-place tie if the Sparks lose both games this week and the Silver Stars after a needed win against New York go on and finish with wins over Seattle on the road Saturday and hosting Minnesota Sunday.

If that would occur, the Silver Stars get the home advantage because they won the season series over the Sparks.

Meanwhile, as New York nears a return to the playoffs, should the Liberty falter, Chicago needs to take Seattle on the road Tuesday, Atlanta at home Thursday, and then Washington at home Saturday.

With that said, please go to the post below this to read about the Bottoms Up Division, AKA, as the Sherman Tankers, and learn little nuggets you won't necessarily hear next Wednesday when the draft lottery order is determined and revealed on ESPN at 6 p.m.

-- Mel

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


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