Sunday, June 15, 2008

A Husky Update (4th edition)

Every week, we’ll take a look around the league at UConn alums and how they’re performing in the WNBA.

Atlanta Dream:
(1) Ann Strother, G/F (UConn, 2006): 0.5 points, 0.5 rebounds
Low-down: Atlanta is still winless, but Strother scored her first points of the season in a season-high 14 minutes last Saturday at Chicago. But she still isn’t seeing significant time. Wednesday in the Dream’s 81-77 loss to New York, she played less than a minute.

Connecticut Sun:
(1) Asjha Jones, F (2002): 15.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 52.1 shooting percentage
Low-down: Jones has reasserted herself as a focal point of the Sun’s offense in recent weeks. Over her last four games, she’s averaged 19.8 points and 16 shot attempts, and she continued to be remarkably efficient this season. In turn, her touches have taken away from those of Lindsay Whalen (15.8 points) and Tamika Whitmore (15.4). Combined, the three are the highest scoring trio in the Eastern conference.

(2) Tamika Raymond, F (2002): 2.6 points, 3.3 rebounds, 32.0 shooting percentage
Low-down: It was a small stretch in the first half, but Raymond looked more aggressive than ever this season last Sunday against Washington. She shot 3-for-3 from the field, stepped into a passing lane for a steal and, as she continues to be, was a solid in spelling Jones or Whitmore. The only criticism one can have is UConn’s all-time leader in field goal percentage is shooting well below her career average (55.3).

(3) Ketia Swanier, G (2008): 1.5 points, 0.8 assists, 5.2 minutes
Low-down: Swanier has come on strong of late, looking more aggressive and confident than ever. She’s hit 3s in three consecutive games and only has one turnover in 18 combined minutes. Swanier still isn’t seeing significant time, but she’s become much more reliable in running the Sun’s offense, especially as coach Mike Thibault continues to use a two point guard-set more often.

(4) Barbara Turner, G/F (2006): 10. points, 3.5 rebounds, 21 minutes
Low-down: Turner has scored in double figures in her last three games, including Tuesday in Minnesota when she scored a career high 18 points in sealing the Sun’s 75-66 win over Lynx. Turner continues to keep in touch with John Lucas, the former NBA coach she trained with during the offseason.

“I talked to him (Tuesday) after the game,” Turner said. “He gave me critiques on the first half, that I didn’t do what I did in the second half. He said that I kind of came out and played anxious instead of coming out, settling in and trying to make plays. He told me in all of the games that I’ve played when I try to go out and make plays and get things, that’s when I’m effective. He told me to calm down, take make deep breaths and just keep doing what I’m doing.”

Los Angeles Sparks:
(1) Jessica Moore, F/C (2005): 0.8 points, 0.9 rebounds, 8.5 minutes
Low-down: Jessica Moore’s line against Connecticut (eight minutes, zero points) was a familiar one. Moore’s only taken 14 shots on the season (making two), and she hasn’t scored in her last five games. That said, Moore has never been a huge scorer, even in 2006 when she started 33 games, averaging 4.3 points.

Minnesota Lynx:
(1) Charde Houston, F (2008): 9.2 points, 5.1 rebounds, 19.8 minutes
Low-down: Houston’s offense has cooled of late, as she’s scored a combined 13 points in her last three games. But she’s still getting good minutes and she’s still rebounding. She scored just four points Saturday in New York, but played 27 minutes, grabbed eight rebounds and remained active. The Lynx, though, have hit a skid, losing four of five, dropping a 78-77 decision to the Liberty and an 82-78 game to Sacramento two days before.

New York Liberty:
(1) Ashley Battle, G/F (2005): 0.9 points, 8.7 minutes
Low-down: Battle continues to become an afterthought on the New York bench. She’s played a combined five minutes her last three games, scoring zero points, and is well below her career average of 5.2 points per game. All this, after she played her best season as a pro last summer, averaging 7.4 points in 22.3 minutes.

Phoenix Mercury:
(1) Willnett Crocket, F (2006): 1.8 points, 2.2 rebounds, 8.2 minutes
Low-down: Crockett too has seen her minutes shrink recently. As Le’Coe Willingham continues to play the best basketball of her career (7.5 points, a team-high 6.6 rebounds per game), Crockett has now played 14 minutes total in her last three games, scoring one point in that time.

(2) Diana Taurasi, G/F (2004): 23.5 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists
Low-down: As Phoenix continues to struggle, Taurasi’s offense has gone for naught. She scored 37 points on 13of-20 shooting — the highest scoring total in the WNBA this season and third-highest in franchise history — but the Mercury still fell to Seattle, 83-77. Taurasi then followed that with a season low nine points on 1-of-13 shooting in a loss to Detroit. Phoenix has now lost six of eight to start the season.

Seattle Storm:
(1) Sue Bird, G (2002): 11.5 points, 6.3 assists, 2.9 rebounds
Low-down: When the Storm and Sun clash Monday, Bird and Cash will be on the same floor as former UConn classmates Asjha Jones and Tamika Raymond for the first time since their days in Storrs. Bird, meanwhile, continues to struggle with her shooting efficiency (34 percent), but netted a season-high 21 points two games ago in a loss at San Antonio and still leads the league in assists. Bird also leads her team in minutes played (35.8).

(2) Swin Cash, F (2002): 12.5 points, 5.4 rebounds, 40.8 shooting percentage
Low-down: Cash doesn’t score like Lauren Jackson or distribute like Bird, but she continues to be a key determinant in the Storm’s success. In her last six games, she’s scored 10 or fewer points five times; the Storm have lost four of those games. She was especially limited Saturday in Houston (0-for-4), but registered a season-high five blocks.

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