Silver Stars Fighting For Respect…Again
San Antonio is annually overlooked, but they’re used to having to prove themselves.
by Stephen Litel / @stephenlitel
The San Antonio Silver Stars feel as if they are being overlooked by WNBA fans and the media that covers the league. After all, as of today, they do stand as the number three seed in the Western Conference.
“With fans and media, it feels like no matter what we do, we have to prove ourselves over and over every year,” said Sophia Young. “We get almost taken advantage of when stuff happens, even in games where we get a call and they do something and they don’t get a call for it. Every year, we get rated at the bottom of the list and every year we make the playoffs. We’ve gotten so used to it that it doesn’t matter anymore. We just have to go out there, play and prove ourselves again every year.”
This phenomenon is nothing new to them, as the same thing happens over and over again. Although last year was a different team, it seems as if many forget this is the one and only team who beat the Minnesota Lynx on their run to the championship.
“Every year I’ve been here it’s been the same deal, so it doesn’t matter,” said Becky Hammon. “What matters is what we think, going out there, competing, continuing to get better and let everybody else talk. We’ll do the playing.”
“They did last year and we had a successful season, but unfortunately, we lost to the Lynx, who were the WNBA champs,” adds Danielle Adams. “They overlooked us last year, we were successful. They’re overlooking us this season and we have a whole different team. We’re catching our rhythm in our offense and defense and we’re just trying to play as one.”
All of the team hears what is being said about them or, to be correct, the respect that isn’t thrown their way. Some of the players use that as motivation.
“I think, with us, last year it was the same way, but we embraced it,” said Jia Perkins. “It’s different when you play and you have something to prove, so we don’t need everybody riding with us. We, in this locker room, can lock in together, know what we want to accomplish and know how to do it, so it really doesn’t matter what other people say as long as we believe in each other.”
On the other hand, some players simply block out the talk of the team because they know what matters is what they believe and their play on the court.
“I don’t know if I really care, to be honest,” said Jayne Appel. “Coming out and playing in a league where the talent level is so high every night, whether or not you’re overlooked or not, all that matters is how you come out and play the game. I think we’ve been consistently up there and I do think we are an overlooked team, if I had to pick a side, but in the end it really doesn’t matter.”
There are new faces in the mix this year for San Antonio and the team is still getting to know each other on and off the court. After a 2-4 start to the season, San Antonio has won three of their last four and it looks as if the chemistry is building.
“We have some new players, some young players,” said Hammon. “The bulk of our team with D-Rob and DA, they’re still in their second years, so they’re going to have a sharp learning curve with each other and they’re a big part of what we do. We’re getting Shenise in the mix, Shameka is new, so we have quite a few players who we’re trying to get in the mix. The sooner we can get that chemistry, the better.”
“We have a long way to go, a lot of work, but we have great leadership and I know in due time we’ll get it together and our chemistry will be really good,” adds Shameka Christon. “For me personally, it’s just a matter of trying to get back, but I have so much support from my teammates and the coaches, so that makes it a lot easier for me.”
They also know areas where they do hold an advantage on paper and continue to try to exploit mismatches of the bench. If San Antonio wants to achieve their own goals in the postseason, the bench will be a huge factor and that gives them confidence moving forward.
“I think this is the best our bench has played and we have to continue to do that,” said Perkins. “As bench players, when we come in we have to bring some sort of energy and look to get our starters a rest. If they’re struggling, we have to lift them up. We need to build on that and continue to focus on bringing energy. That’s how it works and we need to bring that every game. As a bench, we’re going to do that.”
The 2012 version of the San Antonio Silver Stars are still a work in progress with great potential and they are well aware of that, as they continue to focus on how to improve.
“We have times where we’re not mentally locked-in and that’s a good thing because that’s something you can really fix and it won’t take long,” said Christon. “We’re still needing to learn each other and it’s just a matter of sticking together, grinding and actually being aggressive taking it to the practice court, getting after each other and making each other better.”
This is a team known for one thing above all others and continue to work and get all the new faces on the same page. With the talent on the roster, if they can figure it out, the Western Conference better look out.
“Defensively, we have to continue to get better,” said Hammon. “That’s always been our identity in the past. We have to be keyed in from the start, we have to do our schemes and do them hard. If they don’t work, it’s coach’s decision to change them up, but we have to go out and do our jobs.”
San Antonio may be overlooked by fans and media, but players on the opposing team respect the Silver Stars. They know the truth.
“You always have fundamentally strong, non-superstar, no ego, hard-working attitude players and the league overlooks the good guys sometimes,” said Taj McWilliams-Franklin of the Minnesota Lynx. “I’ve said that before that often times the flashy players and superstars get the play in the NBA and the WNBA, but then you have teams like the San Antonio Spurs and Silver Stars who people come around and say, ‘Oh my god, they’re really good.’ Well, they’ve been good all year. We never doubted they were a great team. They never give up, no matter what the score is because they have pride in their craft and what they do on the floor.”
This is a team that understands their place in the league as quietly one of the best when they are on their game. If those casual fans don’t understand they are a dangerous team, it’s their loss.
“Everybody has their favorites, everybody has their team, but we’re going to come out and do what we do regardless of who is watching,” said Robinson. “We’re here to represent the city of San Antonio and that’s what we have to do every night.”
The month of July brings a crazy schedule for San Antonio, with four of their seven games in the month on the road and two of their home games are against last year’s WNBA finalists, the Minnesota Lynx and Atlanta Dream. July will be a month for San Antonio to really show who they truly are as a team in 2012.
Photos by Matthew Fleegel