WNBA Mailbag: July 19, 2010
On being right…and horribly wrong.
by Ben York | @bjyork
Three months have passed since our last WNBA mailbag. I’m sure every single one of SLAMonline’s millions of readers has been waiting on pins and needles for the next one…right…Bueller?
Okay, maybe you didn’t notice (or care) that it has been so long. But if you have been waiting for a new edition of the mailbag, I’m certainly happy to oblige. A lot has happened since mid-April, and hundreds of emails have come in. Hopefully I’ve done a good job of picking out ones that cover a wide range of trending topics.
As always, feel free to send me an email about anything; it could be how right or wrong you think I am, asking a question to be used in the mailbag, or even to talk about movies or music (I proudly call myself a snob at both).
As always, thanks for reading.
Q: I read the issue of SLAM where you picked the Mercury and Lynx to win over 20 games. Nice call, idiot. – Bethany, Little Rock
A: I was wondering when someone would call me out on that. Not sure the ‘idiot’ was necessary. Maybe it was. But, probably not.
Q: I LOVE reading Alana [Beard’s] articles and blogs. So happy SLAM has her blogging! – Kait, Maryland
A: I think I speak on behalf of everyone at SLAMonline when I say how thrilled we are to have Alana as part of our team. People often ask me how she comes up with ideas and things to write about and it’s 100 percent her own. We have a ton of great stuff coming up with Alana so keep checking back to her blog, The Mind of an Athlete.
Q: I noticed you predicted Crystal Langhorne, Angel McCoughtry, and Sylvia Fowles to breakout this year. Kudos. – Brian, Phoenix, AZ
A: They really are having phenomenal seasons each. More importantly, they are each making a significant impact on their team’s overall success rather than just put up good numbers. It’s nice to see new stars emerge especially with the retirement of legend Lisa Leslie and season-ending injuries to players like Candace Parker and Alana Beard.
Q: What did you think of the [Jeff] Pearlman’s article on SI.com saying the WNBA is destined to fail? I agreed with some of his points but thnk [sic] he’s wrong on many levels. – Jackie, Los Angeles, CA
A: Jackie, you can read my thoughts/response here. To date, I haven’t received a response back.
Q: What, or whom, do you think is the biggest surprise of the WNBA season? – Renee, Brooklyn, NY
A: I think it has to be the Washington Mystics success as a team. If you told me before the season they would be six games over .500 at this point, with the loss of Alana Beard for the year, I would’ve pulled the crazy card on you. I have no problem admitting how wrong I was about the Mystics when I predicted them to be out of the playoff hunt by a long shot. There isn’t a more uplifting story of unity or perseverance in the WNBA.
Q: Your writing is far too positive and uplifting for me. I still read, but I hate myself immediately after. – JB
A: That seems kind of masochistic, JB. Still, thanks for reading and apologies for the tone. I’ll try to be more negative from now on. And I’m being completely facetious when I say that.
Q: Are you surprised the Mercury got off to such a slow start? What about the Sparks? – Cathy, Phoenix, AZ
A: I’d feel comfortable saying I was a little surprised, but there is only so much basketball that a human being can play before something has to give. The Sparks have been hampered by injuries all year and the Mercury has lost seven games by six points or less (including four by three points or less). I think we’ll start to see Phoenix go on a run and unfortunately for Los Angeles, they just don’t have enough depth to overcome injuries to Candace Parker and Betty Lennox.
Q: Besides Tina Charles, who is your Rookie of the Year? – Preston, New Haven, CT
A: What Charles is doing is simply amazing. Not only does she have the Rookie of the Year locked down, she should also get some MVP love. If you take Charles out of it, I think you have to look at Epiphanny Prince in Chicago as the rookie making the most impact and being the most impressive. In just 19 minutes per game, Prince brings the Sky about 10 points, 3 assists, and 2 steals a night. She’ll be even better next season when she will undoubtedly get more playing time
and she adjusts to life in the league.
Q: I’m from Tulsa so it’s no surprise I love the Shock. What do you think of Nolan Richardson’s coaching job so far? – BJ, Tulsa, OK
A: I think it’s still too early to tell; evaluating a coach after just 20 games isn’t really fair. Still, with what he was given, I actually think he’s done a pretty good job. He was presented with a situation that made it virtually impossible to succeed in his first year but he has managed to generate some excitement and hope for the future. There is a very specific type of player that Richardson needs in order to have his system truly work and he has maybe four on the team that come close to fitting it currently. I think he’ll be good for the league and look forward to seeing what he does with the team in 2011.
Q: I loved your article when you traveled with the Mercury. I’m not really a WNBA fan but I’m a big NBA fan. Props to the players for what they do. – Niles, England
A: Thanks, Niles. Ultimately, that was the goal–to accurately relay what these women go through on a yearly basis. If you can believe it, traveling with their overseas team are actually more complicated and far more grueling. It’s really a testament to how much they love the game of basketball and why so many people are finally giving the women’s game a legitimate chance.
Q: Mid-season picks for MVP and Coach of the Year. Go. – Kevin, Seattle, WA (Ben’s note: no, it’s not this Kevin)
A: I’d find it hard to believe that the MVP award and the Coach of the Year award would go anywhere but Seattle. Lauren Jackson is having an unbelievable season and Brian Agler is doing an even better job coaching. Unless something drastic happens to the contrary, look for both awards to go to members of the Storm.
Q: Now that Lisa Leslie retired, who is the best center in the league? – Beth, Chicago, IL
A: Great question. I think you could make a solid case for three players: Sylvia Fowles, Erika de Souza, and Tina Charles. They each rebound the ball extremely well, are fantastic in the post, and defend the paint better than anyone. Perhaps even more encouraging, these players are young and still can get better.
Have a question for the WNBA mailbag? Send an email to Ben.