Here’s the weekly rundown on UConn alums around the league, with their season averages in key categories. As the playoffs get underway, next week’s update will be considerably smaller, as only those players involved will be included.
(1) Nykesha Sales (UConn, 1998): 13.1 points, 4.04 rebounds, 3.2 assists per game
Low-down: After her career-high 32-point performance, Sales somewhat struggled in the Sun’s final two games. She scored seven points on 3-of-13 shooing against New York on Friday, and after scoring 15 points in the first half against Washington on Sunday, she had just two in the second. She missed most of the third period after taking an elbow to the lip, but it’s nothing serious. Expect a fully healthy Sales entering the playoffs.
(2) Asjha Jones (2002): 15.3 points, 6.10 rebounds, 44.9 field-goal percentage
Low-down: Jones’ sprained ankle kept her out of the last three games, but she said Friday that she expects to play Thursday in the Sun’s playoff opener against Indiana. Sun coach Mike Thibault didn’t sound as confident Tuesday, but it would be surprising if Jones saw no time in Game 1.
“Today when we practiced she did some minimal stuff, some shooting, some walk-through stuff,” Thibault said in a conference call. “She’s probably going to be a shoot-around decision on the day of the game. We’ll see how she reacts each day after practice. She’s still pretty sore.”
(1) Swin Cash (2002): 11.1 points, 6.10 rebounds, 2.5 assists
Low-down: Cash sat out the Shock’s final two games. She’s battled a sore back but she is expected to play in Detroit’s playoff opener Friday in New York. Shock coach Bill Laimbeer opted to either sit or play most of his starters limited minutes after the team clinched homecourt advantage, and as a result, the Shock lost their final four games.
(1) Ann Strother (2006): 2.3 points, 0.75 rebounds
Low-down: Strother didn’t play in either of the Fever’s final two games – both wins. With Tamika Catchings’ eminent return, she probably won’t see much time, if any at all, in the playoffs.
New York Liberty:
(1) Ashley Battle (2005): 7.4 points, 3.71 rebounds, 1.03 steals
Low-down: Battle scored seven and six points in two of the Liberty’s final three games, helping to lift her team into the fourth and final playoff spot. She may not put up big offensive numbers in the playoffs – though she’s capable of getting hot – but New York coach Pat Coyle values Battle for other reasons.
“The one thing about A.B. is she’s been around a lot of pressure situations,” Coyle said. “I think she really gives us that extra boost and being that she’s been in so many pressure situations at Connecticut, she can lend a hand to our younger player in the preparation part in our first playoff series.”
(1) Diana Taurasi (2004): 19.2 points, 4.22 rebounds, 4.3 assists
Low-down: In perhaps the Mercury’s biggest regular-season game, Taurasi came up huge. She netted 32 points – her second highest total this season – to lift Phoenix to a 101-91 win over Sacramento and the top seed in the West entering the playoffs. To top it off, she dropped another 24 on the Monarchs two nights later for her fifth 20-plus-point game of the month. Phoenix plays at Seattle in Game 1 of their first-round series Friday.
(2) Kelly Schumacher (2001): 4.4 points, 4.32 rebounds, 45.6 field-goal percentage
Low-down: Schumacher saw solid minutes (19 and 20) in the Mercury’s final two games, and responded with her usual line. She scored five points, grabbed four rebounds and dished out three assists in Phoenix’s 101-91 win over the Monarchs. Two nights later she hit two foul shots but racked up five fouls of her own.
(1) Sue Bird (2002): 10.4 points, 4.9 assists, 1.48 steals
Low-down: Seattle had already clinched a playoff spot, but Bird played 30-plus minutes in all three of the Storm’s final three games, scoring 17, six and 14 points, respectively. Despite registering 15 assists in the final two games, Bird missed out on a share of the assists title, falling just short of Lindsay Whalen and Becky Hammon (5.0 per game).
Los Angeles Sparks:
(1) Jessica Moore (2005): 4.2 points, 3.03 rebounds, 39.7 field-goal percentage
Low-down: Moore returned from a sprained right knee to play in the Sparks’ final two games, and she finished in style. The third-year pro scored 13 points and pulled down eight rebounds in the season finale, an 82-72 loss to Houston.
(1) Barbara Turner (2006): 4.2 points, 1.91 rebounds, 40.3 field-goal percentage
Low-down: Turner didn’t play in Houston’s final game, and only saw 11 minutes in the previous one, failing to score. It will be interesting to see what direction she (or Houston) decides to go in. Turner played with Seattle in 2006 before being waived.
(1) Svetlana Abrosimova (2001): 10.1 points, 4.41 rebounds, 2.5 assists
Low-down: With 25- and 18-point performances in the Lynx’s final two games, Abrosimova finished the year with a double-digit scoring average, the first time she’s done that since 2003 (10.6). She also ended with career-highs in field-goal percentage (44.3), assists and 3-point percentage (44.6 percent).
(2) Tamika Raymond (2002): 1.5 points, 1.9 rebounds
Low-down: Raymond notched season highs in points (six) and rebounds (11) in the Lynx’s season finale, an 81-55 win over San Antonio. She also played a season-high 20 minutes.