Tuesday, August 7, 2007

A Huskies update (4th edition)

Here’s the weekly update on UConn alums around the league, with their season averages in key categories:

Connecticut Sun:
(1) Nykesha Sales (UConn, 1998): 12.7 points, 4.05 rebounds, 3.5 assists per game
Low-down: Sales this past week didn’t produce offensively like she’s used to (a combined 11 points in two games on 4-of-15 shooting). But the Sun haven’t needed her to with the continued stellar play of Katie Douglas, Lindsay Whalen and Asjha Jones and the emergence of Evina Maltsi. The good news, Sun coach Mike Thibault said, is “she was the best she’s been physically in a long time.”

“I think watching her play the other day, physically she looked like she had the most bounce she’s had in a while,” the coach said. “That’s my opinion. She might have felt like crap and not have told me. But she looked like she had it.”

(2) Asjha Jones (2002): 15.4 points, 6.15 rebounds, 45.4 field-goal percentage
Low-down: Jones has rarely missed a step in the last month and her steady play continued this past week, scoring 16 and 11 points, respectively, and shooting 5-for-11 (45 percent) from the field. Jones has had to mix up her game as the season has gone along, shooting more jumpers in favor of working out of the post, but that’s because she’s seeing more double teams. Look for more on this development in Wednesday’s Bulletin.

Detroit Shock:
(1) Swin Cash (2002): 11.6 points, 6.29 rebounds, 2.6 assists
Low-down: Like the rest of her Detroit team, Cash continues to plug away, scoring 14 points and grabbing eight rebounds in the Shock’s last win, a 66-60 victory in Chicago on Friday. Detroit all but has the East locked up with the WNBA’s best record, and hasn’t missed a step without Cheryl Ford, thanks in large part to Cash, who’s played 35 minutes twice in her last three games.

Indiana Fever:
(1) Ann Strother (2006): 2.8 points, 0.9 rebounds
Low-down: After getting a loud ovation from the Connecticut crowd on Saturday, Strother played a season-high 17 minutes in the Fever’s 84-59 loss to the Sun, scoring five points. Prior to the last two weeks, she was rarely used by coach Brian Winters.

“Especially in this league, you really have to be ready all the time and anytime you get an opportunity to get in, you just have to have the mindset that anything can happen, someone can get hurt and it can be your turn to go in and make something happen,” Strother said prior to the game. “So for me, it’s (about) being ready all the time.”

Winters echoed that.

“Ann always keeps herself ready,” he said. “She knows how to work hard and I don’t have a problem with putting her in the game. There are a few people ahead of her right now but that doesn’t mean she won’t get in.”
The Fever clinched a playoff spot this week with a 66-58 win over Sacramento.

New York Liberty:
(1) Ashley Battle (2005): 7.7 points, 3.85 rebounds, 1.11 steal
Low-down: After a strong stretch that started in late June and stretched into mid-July, Battle continued to cool in August, combining for 16 points in her last three games (5.33 average) while only grabbing seven rebounds. The Liberty, a nice surprise at the beginning of the season, snapped a seven-game losing streak with a 71-66 win over Minnesota on Aug. 2, but followed it up with an 80-68 loss to Washington the next night. They’re quickly playing themselves out of a playoff spot.

Phoenix Mercury:
(1) Diana Taurasi (2004): 18.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4.2 assists
Low-down: Things are only getting better for Taurasi and her Phoenix teammates. Taurasi notched games of 19, 24 and 28 points this past week, and the Mercury, despite falling 111-101 to Seattle on Saturday to snap a six-game winning streak, have secured a playoff spot and are tied for the top seed in the West with San Antonio. Taurasi tied a season-high of six 3-pointers last Thursday in a crucial win over the Silver Stars.

(2) Kelly Schumacher (2001): 4.4 points, 3.93 rebounds, 47.7 field-goal percentage
Low-down: Schumacher notched 15 minutes twice this last week and had five points and five rebounds in that loss to Seattle. Oddly enough, she scored six points two games earlier in a 76-74 win over Houston, but, at 6-feet, 5-inches, failed to grab a single rebounds. That’s only the second time that’s happened this season.

Seattle Storm:
(1) Sue Bird (2002): 10.5 points, 4.8 assists, 1.63 steals
Low-down: Bird came up big in Seattle’s win over Phoenix on Saturday, scoring 18 points – the most she’s had since dropping 25 on Minnesota on June 22 – and committing zero turnovers in 30 minutes. The Storm entered with three straight losses, and though they’re hardly in danger of falling out of playoff contention with 3.5 games on fifth-place Houston, the victory over the red-hot Mercury was a much-needed one.

Of course, out of it came some good news, courtesy of the Seattle P-I, and some bad news, according to wnba.com.

Los Angeles Sparks:
(1) Jessica Moore (2005): 3.9 points, 2.81 rebounds, 38.0 field-goal percentage
Low-down: It was a touch week for both Moore and the Sparks. Los Angeles has dropped its last two games to fall to 9-18, and Moore has just 10 points combined in her last three contests. In Los Angeles’ 86-67 loss to San Antonio on Saturday, she played just 10 minutes – her fewest since June – and didn’t grab a rebound. Despite 15 starts, Moore hasn’t topped 30 minutes all season, but coach Michael Cooper subs with a deep bench.

Houston Comets:
(1) Barbara Turner (2006): 4.6 points, 1.89 rebounds, 40.3 field-goal percentage
Low-down: Turner didn’t play all that much her last three games (nine, five and eight minutes, respectively) and she wasn’t all that effective on the offensive end either (four combined points). But Houston has won its last two and isn’t out of the playoff race, though they sit 3.5 games back of Seattle. The Comets have six games remaining, including three against Eastern Conference teams.

Minnesota Lynx:
(1) Svetlana Abrosimova (2001): 8.9 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists
Low-down: Well, the Lynx (7-22) have become the first team to officially be eliminated from the playoffs, following two losses to New York (71-66 on Aug. 2) and Houston (88-70 on Aug. 4). Abrosimova played well in the first defeat, scoring 14 points and grabbing four rebounds. But she scored in single figures (nine points) for the first time since July 12 two nights later and shot just 4-of-15 from the field.

(2) Tamika Raymond (2002): 1.1 points, 1.25 rebounds
Low-down: Raymond saw 11 minutes of action against New York, the most since playing 13 minutes on June 20, and she scored two points on the only shot she took. She had three points in six minutes against Houston.

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