WNBA Week 1 Recap
Plenty of action to start the W’s 16th season.
by Christian Mordi / @mordi_thecomeup
The WNBA tipped off its 16th season this past week. Although many international players will be missing from action until after the Olympics, there was still great play in the first week of the WNBA.
Here is a recap of the first games of the week for each team and each franchise’s upcoming games.
Atlanta Dream (0-1)
The Dream started out the season with a loss to the Indiana Fever. The Fever were on fire from the tip, knocking down 12 threes and shooting over 50 percent from behind the arc. The Dream had bright spots in the game, with Angel McCoughtry posting a chunky stat line of 26 points, 7 rebounds, 4 steals and 3 blocks. Lindsay Harding was also solid in the first game of the season with 16 points and 6 assists. Despite the early loss, the Dream are considered by many one of the elite teams in the East. This young team led by rising star Angel McCoughtry has been to the finals back-to-back years. For Dream fans, a loss early in the season to another serious championship contender should not lead them to panic. This team will bounce back strong.
Upcoming games: May 25 vs New York, May 27 vs Indiana
Chicago Sky (1-0)
Chicago was solid in the first night of action, beating the Washington Mystics. They were on the attack early in the game with a 29-8 first half run. MVP candidate Sylvia Fowles put together a strong performance of 23 points and 12 rebounds vs the Mystics. In order for the Sky to elevate to contender status, they must find a way to keep the turnovers down. In the first game of the season, they gave away the ball 21 times, despite only posting 16 assists. Chicago made up for that by creating 23 turnovers, but every team will not be as loose with the ball as Washington.
Upcoming games: May 25 vs Indiana, May 30 @ San Antonio
Connecticut Sun (2-0)
The Sun started out the season with a double header vs the New York Liberty, winning both contests. Tina Charles is one of the league’s rising stars, and is good for a double-double each night. The Sun have done a good job surrounding her with familiar faces (three former college teammates in Charles, Renee Montgomery and Kalana Greene) who know exactly where to get her the rock down low. The Sun were solid last year at 21-13, but were poor on the road, at 6-11. Remaining steady and adjusting to away crowds will be a test for this young team, but the future is bright.
Upcoming games: May 25 vs San Antonio
Indiana Fever (1-0)
The Fever’s opening night was a success, beating the Atlanta Dream, 92-84. Veteran Katie Douglas led the way with 21 points and 2011 WNBA MVP Tamika Catchings was solid with 16 in the game. Indiana shot the ball amazingly well, knocking down 12-21 threes against the Dream. Indiana is a battle-tested team, having made the playoffs seven consecutive years. With eight returning players from last year’s roster, and a healthy Catchings on deck, the sky is the limit for this Fever team.
Upcoming games: May 25 @ Chicago, May 27 @ Atlanta
New York Liberty (0-2)
The Liberty struggled out of the gates with losses in back-to-back games against the Connecticut Sun. The Liberty struggled to find easy looks in the first two games, shooting under 40 percent in both contests. Tina Charles was a thorn in the side of the Liberty, posting 20 points per game in the double header. Lelani Mitchell is a steady point guard option and Cappie Pondexter can fill it up, but with the lack of scoring punch, this team will need to focus on slowing down opponents, rather than getting in high-scoring affairs each night. If they can continue to defend at a high level, the Liberty will be solid.
Upcoming Games: May 22 vs Minnesota
Washington Mystics (0-1)
The Mystics suffered a loss in the opener to the Chicago Sky, 69-57. Washington struggled to knock down shots, shooting 16 percent from behind the arc, and as a result, the Sky packed the paint to slow down Crystal Langhorne. The Mystics also turned the ball over at an alarming rate—23 times in the contest. A bright spot in the game was the return of Monique Currie, who missed all but four games last year due to injury. The Mystics will look to lean on Langhorne and Currie to lead them to victory this year.
Upcoming games: May 26 vs Tulsa, May 30 vs Minnesota
Los Angeles Sparks (1-0)
The Sparks played an intense first game of the season against the Seattle Storm. L.A. was able to erase a 21-point deficit to come back and win, 72-66. Former Maryland Terp Kristi Tolliver led the way with 25 points in the contest. This team could be the most intriguing to watch all year, because there are so many questions with the roster. How will No. 1 pick Nneka Ogwumike adjust to the WNBA? Will Candace Parker and Alana Beard remain healthy all season? Only time will give us the answers to those questions, but if things fall into the place for L.A., they could compete with Minnesota.
Upcoming games: May 22 vs Seattle, May 27 vs Tulsa
Minnesota Lynx (1-0)
The defending champs were on in the first week of action, beating Phoenix, 105-83. The dynamic duo of Maya Moore and Simone Augustus led the way, with Augustus dropping 19 points and Moore 13. Augustus was forced to leave the game with bruised ribs, but hopefully no time will be missed for the All-Star.
Upcoming games: May 22 @ New York, May 24 vs Los Angeles
Phoenix Mercury (0-1)
Phoenix was outmatched in the season opener versus the Minnesota Lynx, losing 105-83. UConn alum Charde Houston led the way with 24 points in the contest for the Mercury. All-Star Diana Taurasi missed the game also, which had an effect on the game’s output. The Mercury can fill it up, leading the WNBA in points per contest, but they also allowed the most per game as well. There will have to be more of a focus on slowing down opponents this year if they want to go to another level.
Upcoming games: May 22 @ Tulsa, May 26 vs Los Angeles
San Antonio Silver Stars (1-0)
The Silver Stars were tested early in the season by the Tulsa Shock, but prevailed, 88-79. Tulsa led 77-73 with three minutes left in the game, but San Antonio went on a 14-2 run to end the game. Sophia Young led the way with 20 points for the Silver Stars. All-Star Becky Hammon was on top of her game netting 16 points in the contest. The Stars looked solid on the boards, winning the battle versus the Shock, 36-25. Time will tell is the Stars have truly solved their rebounding woes, which was a glaring weakness last year.
Upcoming games: May 25 @ Connecticut, May 30 vs Chicago
Seattle Storm (0-1)
The Storm let the season opener slip away, losing 72-66 to the Los Angeles Sparks. In the fourth quarter, they were outscored 30-10. The Storm will be without All-Star center Lauren Jackson for the first half of the season, as she has decided to stay home in Australia to prepare for the London Olympics. It will be rough sailing for the Storm without her early in the season. Next up are two tough away games versus the Sparks and the defending champs.
Upcoming games: May 22 @ Los Angeles, May 27 @ Minnesota
Tulsa Shock (0-1)
The Shock battled hard in the season opener before falling to the Sliver Stars, 88-79. They held a 4-point lead with three minutes left, but didn’t finish the game strong. Temeka Johnson led the way for the Shock with 21 points and 9 assists. Many believe the Shock will be the one of the most improved teams in the WNBA this year due to the due to the combination of grizzled veterans and young talent within the roster.
Upcoming games: May 26 @ Washington