San Antonio Silver Stars 2010 Season Preview
The Spurs aren’t the team on the decline.
We continue previewing the 2010 WNBA Season with the San Antonio Silver Stars. You can read past previews here.
by Clay Kallam
There was a moment at the Alamo when it became clear Santa Anna was going to win – and those adobe walls were going to come tumbling down.
The situation for the San Antonio Silver Stars isn’t quite that serious, but it sure looks like this particular battle – the summer of 2010 – is going to be a losing one. There’s only one premier player in the prime of her career (Sophia Young), and that’s for a team coming off a 15-19 year.
On top of that, coach Dan Hughes finally had enough of battling officials and stomping up and down the sidelines, leaving San Antonio in the hands of WNBA rookie head co-coaches Sandy Brondello and Olaf Lange.
But let’s start with the positive: Sophia Young is simply one of the best players in the world. Last year, she averaged 18.2 ppg on 45.4 percent shooting, added 6.5 rpg, 1.6 apg and 1.3 apg. In the last two seasons, she’s added a three-point threat to her game – granted, she’s not brilliant from beyond the arc, but she has to be guarded there, and that opens up the floor for the rest of her game. Young has just gotten better and better in her four-year career, and at 26, there’s no reason to expect that improvement to stop.
If Becky Hammon were 26 instead of 33, that pair might be enough to throw a scare into the WNBA West, but the crafty Hammon simply can’t be expected to get 19.5 ppg and shoot 44.7 percent every season. She’s a very good passer too, but her turnovers and defense can be a problem. With more perimeter help, those issues could be dealt with, but the Silver Stars’ roster simply doesn’t have much to offer.
Helen Darling, who will be 32 in August, shot an incredibly awful 24.8 percent shooting last season (coming off 26.8 percent in 2008) and even a 2.5 A/TO can’t offset that dismal percentage. And with her quickness fading, Darling isn’t a good defender any more, but still, she started 13 games last year. Edwige Lawson-Wade started 12 games, and had her best WNBA season in four tries, but 5.2 ppg in 17.7 mpg isn’t going to take much heat off Hammon. And Lawson-Wade, like Hammon and Darling, is small (5-6) and in her 30s (31).
Belinda Snell is at least taller (5-11) and younger (29), but there’s a reason she’s been referred to as Belinda Snail. Yes, she’s supposed to be a shooter (though career numbers of 35.1 percent and 31.3 percent from three suggest otherwise), but she can’t really defend and doesn’t rebound well for her size.
The best bet is probably Roneeka Hodges, who had a fine year for Minnesota last summer, but her skill set duplicates Hammon’s to a great extent. Still, she’s a better call than Darling or Lawson-Wade, though she’s no threat to make the All-Star roster.
Sadly, the perimeter game is in better hands than the post game. San Antonio was happy to watch Jayne Appel fall to number four in the April draft, but Appel will need time to recover from her injuries, as well as adjust to the WNBA. In the long run, she should be a more than serviceable center, and as a healthy rookie, will eventually supply more interior presence than the 6-5, contact-averse, Ruth Riley (26 free throws in 31 games (650 minutes) last year). Riley is a decent shooter and rebounds well for a small forward, but Lange and Brondello will need more physicality from her than her history provides if the Silver Stars are to make the Playoffs.
Veteran Michelle Snow could conceivably step into the gap, but she managed just 5.4 ppg and 4.3 rpg for the Dream last season, and the 30-year-old’s best season was back in the mists of time (OK, it was 2005 for Houston).
Perhaps the most intriguing frontcourt player is second-year Megan Frazee, one of a set of triplets who won a lot of games at Liberty (the college, not the Blazejowski-guided train wreck). Frazee is a strong 6-3 who can shoot from beyond the arc and got to the free-throw line 39 times in 326 minutes (compare to Riley). She’s also a good rebounder, and could wind up playing a pivotal role for San Antonio all summer long.
And that’s pretty much it, unless you’re one of the Blue Raider faithful who think Alysha Clark can play in the W. You’ve got the Young star, the older Hammon, the journeywoman Hodges and the potential of Appel and Frazee. Otherwise, it’s fading veterans and rookie coaches trying to hold off the hordes in the West and avoid the lottery.
It didn’t work out all that well in 1836, and, sadly for one of the more stable franchises in the league, it doesn’t look all that much better 184 years later.