12 Days, 12 Previews: San Antonio Silver Stars
Five keys to a successful season.
The WNBA’s 15th season begins June 3rd and SLAMonline is counting down the days with in-depth previews of all twelve teams.
Prior to the start of each WNBA season (and NBA season for that matter), every writer and blogger in the country compiles extensive (by “extensive” I mean “wordy,” and by “wordy” I mean “tired”) previews analyzing the upcoming year, team by team. It’s just a fact of life. Almost as certain as death and taxes.
The problem, however, is they all look, feel, and say the same exact thing every year (copy and paste). You, the reader, deserves far better. Thus, we’re going through each team discussing five specific things they’ll need for their 2011 campaign to be considered a success.
More importantly, we want this to be interactive – be sure to post your thoughts in the comment section below.
Five Keys to the Season: San Antonio Silver Stars
By Ben York / @bjyork
5. Jayne Appel: I see Jayne Appel as kind of the x-factor for the Silver Stars in 2011. I was incredibly impressed with her during Team USA training camp in Las Vegas a few weeks back. She was as fit and healthy as I’ve ever seen her and there was a quiet confidence to her game that rivaled her phenomenal career at Stanford. In fact, I picked her as one of the stand-outs amongst all of the world-class players at camp. She was aggressive, energetic, and vocal – all great signs for Silver Stars fans.
That’s why news of her being out for about a month to repair a minor meniscus tear in her left knee is so unfortunate. The good news is that she’ll only be out for a few weeks but the bad news is that coming back and getting into the swing of things mid-season (especially from a chemistry standpoint) will be difficult. San Antonio will need to stay in the hunt while Appel is out if they want to make a playoff push in July and August.
4. Identity: What kind of team with San Antonio be? Will they pride themselves on the defensive end of the floor? Will they need to out-run opposing teams to gain an advantage? Will they continue to play an inside-out style? As the Western Conference continues to improve all around, the Silver Stars need to develop a comfort level (and be okay with) the things they do well along with understanding and accepting what their weaknesses are. Whatever it is, they’ll need to find their niche early on and separate themselves from the middle of the pack in virtually all offensive and defensive statistical categories to combat the Western Conference powerhouses (Mercury, Storm, Lynx, and Sparks).
3. Scoring: The Silver Stars averaged 76.9 points per game in 2010 and gave up over 80; that’s certainly an area that needs to be remedied if they want to be in the mix come playoff time. Furthermore, they only averaged about 62 shot-attempts per game in 2010 (the league-leader, Phoenix Mercury, averaged 72). The good news is when they did shoot the ball, they did so at a high shooting percentage (46.1, second in the league). The bad news is they didn’t get to the foul-line much to compensate for their lack of shot-attempts (just 18.2 FT-attempts per game in 2010).
The Silver Stars have a nice group of athletic, versatile players along the perimeter so getting to the basket and creating high-percentage shot-attempts (and FT’s) will need to be a focal point for San Antonio in 2011.
2. Rebounding: The Silver Stars were last in the league in rebounding in 2010 averaging 30.1 rpg. Even though they only allowed the opposition to grab about 33 a game (not a huge discrepancy) their main problem on the defensive end consisted in giving up high-percentage shots and way too many second-chance opportunities. The 2011 Silver Stars are definitely not as big, tall, or strong as the other teams in the Western Conference; this puts pressure not just on center Ruth Riley to solidify the paint but also the entire team to unite in sort of a “gang-rebounding” mentality. If San Antonio doesn’t make this a priority, they might be in for a long year.
1. Becky Hammon and Sophia Young: I can’t say enough about the tandem of Becky Hammon and Sophia Young. When these two are on, you can never count the Silver Stars out of any game. Hammon and Young have accounted for nearly 40 percent of the Silver Stars points over the past five seasons and that total could very well be closer to 50 percent in 2011.
They are indisputably the heart and soul of this team and they’ll need to collectively produce another fantastic season together for San Antonio to avoid the lottery.
What do you think? Let us know your thoughts and we’ll tweet out some of our favorite responses!