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.

Friday, July 25, 2014

WNBA Report: Bentley Looks to Guide Connecticut Back to the Playoffs

By Rob Knox @knoxrob1

Alex Bentley is looking forward to the challenge of helping the Connecticut Sun earn a playoff spot.

Even though the Sun are in a temporary rut – a rough stretch in which they lost nine of their last 11 games -- the energetic 5 foot, 7 inch guard is not worried because she believes Connecticut (10-15) will be part of the WNBA’s postseason party when the season concludes on August 17.

Coach Anne Donovan's squad finds itself in fifth place in the Eastern Conference standings, a half-game behind New York, winners of two straight, as it takes the court Sunday afternoon against former UConn queen Maya Moore and the reigning WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx (18-6) at the Mohegan Sun Arena beginning at 3:00 p.m.

“The Eastern Conference is a dogfight,” Bentley said. “The end of the season is approaching quickly and we’re getting into playoff mode. It’s going to be a battle every night. I am looking forward to it. I love challenges and the competiveness of the league. We’re going to have some fun.”

The Penn State product has always had a blast overcoming obstacles and turning doubters into believers.

There were occasions she was told that she was too short to be an impact player at a major Division I school despite enjoying a phenomenal high school career.

Not only did she become one of the best players in Penn State history, Bentley was drafted in 13th overall by the Atlanta Dream.

With a chip the size of the state of Georgia on her shoulders last season, Bentley played a key role in helping the Dream advance to the WNBA Finals by averaging 8.3 points per game.

A fierce floor-general, Bentley was named to the WNBA All-Rookie team and set a league record by making 10 consecutive 3-pointers during a sizzling two-week stretch.

Just as she was becoming comfortable in Atlanta, she was traded to Connecticut, which became another opportunity to thrive in a new situation.

“At first, I was surprised,” Bentley said. “I learned about the trade when I was overseas playing in Brazil from my agent. When I came back home, I got my mind right for training camp and focused on trying to help my team win. I love the organization here in Connecticut. My teammates and coaching staff are great. I am in a good position.”

Bentley has produced solid numbers for the Sun this season.

Averaging 12.0 points per game, which is third on the team behind rookie Chiney Ogwumike and Katie Douglas, Bentley has scored 20 or more points five times this season.

She has reached double figures in scoring in 14 of the Sun’s last 18 games after her 15-point outing Wednesday afternoon in an 89-75 loss to the Mystics at the Verizon Center.

She also leads the Sun with 93 assists after delivering a season-high tying nine helpers against the Mystics.

Earlier this season, Bentley became the fourth player in franchise history to string together three consecutive 20-point games and she registered three straight career-highs in the process: 21 points against Indiana (June 7), 22 against Phoenix (June 12) and 24 against New York (June 13).

Those efforts all occurred during the Sun’s season-high six-game win streak. She was also named Eastern Conference Player of the Week in June.

Bentley’s passionate and fearless play on the floor has made a nice impression on her teammates. The best part about Bentley is she has inspired confidence in everybody. Bentley has a knack for finding ways to score late in the shot-clock.

“She’s a very confident player, which is good for our team,” veteran guard Renee Montgomery said. “We have a good shot to make playoffs. At this point, we don’t have to hope and wish somebody wins or loses because we control what happens.

"We understand that every game matters for us especially since we’re playing against East teams. We have a chance to move up and stay up in the standings as long as we handle business.”

One of the wins during the streak was a 96-95 triumph over Phoenix. The Mercury have won 14 straight contests since that setback to improve their record to 20-3 overall.

A win over Phoenix proves to the Sun that they have the ingredients to do some special things over their final nine games despite a difficult slate that features a three-game road trip next week.

“There are nine games left with everybody trying to get into the playoffs,” Bentley said. “We’ll keep working and fighting until the season is finished and see where we are. When we play hard as a team, we’re hard to stop. We just have to continue to work hard in practice and try to get these wins.”

One of the highlight's of Bentley’s recent trip to Washington was meeting up with the Penn State coaching staff and former teammate for dinner on Tuesday night. Bentley keeps up with the progress of the Nittany Lions and remains in consistent communication with head coach Coquese Washington.

During whatever tough times Bentley has encountered as a professional, Washington has always been there to provide encouragement and support.

“I talk to coach almost everyday,” Bentley said. “She’s always going to be a mentor to me. She’s like a mom to me. That’s my homie. I saw the entire coaching staff and one of my teammates Mia Nickson, so that was nice. I don’t get up there much. I plan to go visit before I go overseas.”

Bentley has confidence that the trip back to Happy Valley will be delayed a few weeks as she finishes some important business.

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad


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