The Houston Roundball Review is an online basketball publication
by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Lowe's Senior CLASS, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.
ARCHIVE: The Houston Roundball Review's 2001 WNBA Notebooks
2001 WNBA Notebook: thru July 17th
Charlotte Sting: 8 -11. Summary: Charlotte has won seven of their last eight. Dawn Staley is second in the league in assists with 6.4 per game. Andrea Stinson is tied for 10th in scoring with 15.0 per game. Allison Feaster continues to play well on both offense and defense; and, she will own the club record for most three pointers in a season (currently tied with 38) with her next make from three land. Since the dreadful 1 - 10 start, Charlotte is finally playing up to its potential.
Cleveland Rockers: 15 - 5. Summary: The Rockers are in a battle with New York for the top spot in the East as well as the league's best overall record with LA and Houston. F / C Chasity Melvin is out of action for about another week with a fractured orbital bone near her right eye; however, her teammates have picked up her slack. Cleveland's win at Houston was very impressive and quite physical. The Rockers don't apologize for their tough defensive style one bit. They lead the league in points allowed at only 55.2. Cleveland is a perfect 9 - 0 at home this season.
Detroit Shock: 5 - 13. Summary: Detroit has lost 10 of 12. Without star player Wendy Palmer, Detroit struggled mightily. They went 2 - 8 when Palmer missed games due to a hamstring injury. The team's defense has been a turnstile for most of the season; however, it has shown signs of life the last 3 games. As bad as the season has been thus far, Detroit is still in the hunt for a playoff spot in the East.
Houston Comets: 14 - 4. Summary: After losing two games in a row (home versus Cleveland and on the road in Sacramento), the Comets won at Portland and at Seattle. They have 3 more road games left on their current six game road trip. The offense is still struggling with consistency. Truth be told: the team's defense is the main reason the club is 14 - 4. The search for a consistent third scorer is ongoing. Rookie G Tynesha Lewis may see more minutes in the second half of the season.
Indiana Fever: 6 - 13. Summary: Indiana is still struggling to win close games. They've lost 5 of their last 6. F Tamika Catchings won't play at all this season. She suffered a second injury to her right knee early this month. She tore the ACL in the right knee in January. Indiana doesn't have much of a problem scoring. Their main problem is defense and properly executing their offense at the end of games. G Rita Williams is leading the way in scoring for the team at 12.4 per game. Lately, F Nadine Malcolm has become a legitimate scoring threat to help share the load with Williams and F Olympia Scott - Richardson.
Los Angeles Sparks: 17 - 3. Summary: LA has won 8 straight games. Lisa Leslie has been on a tear on both ends of the court. LA is not a fan favorite; but, that fact is not their concern. Coach Michael Cooper continues to preach to the team their goal is a championship and anything else is unacceptable. LA places more pressure on themselves to win than anyone else; while that's understandable, the team still loses focus during games and gets involved in altercations which don't bode well for playoff success.
Miami Sol: 10 - 9. Summary: Miami has won 4 in a row. F Elena Baranova is having a very good season. She had a lull about 3 weeks ago; but, she's played All - Star caliber since then. Sandy Brondello, Sheri Sam, and Tracy Reid are sharing the scoring load. Rookie C Ruth Riley is a force on defense; and while the team may struggle to score a times, their solid team defense is a constant.
Minnesota Lynx: 6 - 12. Summary: The team has lost eight of their last nine games. F Katie Smith scored a league record 46 points in Minnesota's overtime loss to LA. Smith continues to be the lone consistent offensive scoring threat for the Lynx. Betty Lennox has not yet recovered from her injured hip. Rookie Svetlana Abrosimova is playing fairly well; but, not enough to help Smith or produce victories. To make matters worse, Minnesota ends the season with four of their last five games on the road.
New York Liberty: 15 - 5. Summary: Tari Phillips is having an MVP caliber season. New York is battling with Cleveland for the East's top spot. In a somewhat surprising stat, New York leads the league in three point shooting percentage (42.0%). The offense has been much more consistent this season than past seasons. Teresa Weatherspoon continues to be the team leader; and, she can still run the team very effectively. Unless some truly unforeseen circumstances occur, New York is a lock for a playoff berth.
Orlando Miracle: 6 - 12. Summary: Orlando continues to struggle. They've lost 6 of 8. However, point guard Shannon Johnson is finally healthy; so her return should be a boon to the team. Taj McWilliams - Franklin and Nykesha Sales have been the main scoring threats for the Miracle; so, Johnson's return should add to Orlando's "dynamic duo". As mentioned elsewhere, Orlando is still in the hunt to make the playoffs in the East. Plus, they end the season with 5 of their last 7 at home.
Phoenix Mercury: 7 - 12. Summary: The team's hopes for the playoffs aren't dead; but, the club has to improve its home record (only 5 - 5) and also its dismal road record (2 - 7). Coach Cynthia Cooper has yet find the right mix between the veterans (Jennifer Gillom and Michelle Timms) and their young players (Kristen Veal, Adrain Williams, and Maria Stepanova). All is not lost; but, reducing turnovers and taking better shots are two big keys to a turnaround.
Portland Fire: 9 - 9. Summary: Portland has hit a lull. They've lost 3 straight games; and blown big leads in each game. Jackie Stiles is still scoring well; but, the rest of the team is struggling. F DeMya Walker injured her knee in a loss at Houston; but, she could return to action in about 2 weeks. Portland is currently fourth in the West which means, if they maintain (or improve) their position, they'll be in the playoffs in only their second season in the league.
Sacramento Monarchs: 12 - 8. Summary: The team is 6 - 2 since Maura McHugh took over as head coach. Yolanda Griffith is dominating the boards and leading the league in rebounding. The team is second in scoring and tied for the lead in rebounding. G Kedra Holland - Corn is having her best season scoring (10.7 per game) and shooting (47% from the field, including 44% from three). One small concern is Ticha Penicheiro's refusal to shoot. As the games get tougher, teams will force Ticha to take the outside shot. She not only has to attempt them; but, she'll have to make a good percentage of them, too.
Seattle Storm: 8 - 12. Summary: Seattle is second in the league in points allowed (62.2 per game); however, they rank dead last in scoring per game (59.5). Rookie Lauren Jackson has to score well in order the team to have a shot at winning. Semeka Randall is struggling with consistency on offense. Seattle needs players like Kamila Vodichkova, Katy Steding and Michelle Marciniak to improve their offensive production.
Utah Starzz: 8 - 10. Summary: After the All - Star break, Utah has three straight road games. They can not afford to lose all 3 games if they want to have a realistic shot of making the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. Natalie Williams, Adrienne Goodson and Margo Dydek form one of the best, if not the best, scoring frontlines in the league. Rookie Marie Ferdinand has improved her play from week to week and game to game. The pieces are there for a playoff berth; but, it's up to the players to make it happen.
Washington Mystics: 5 - 13. Summary: The Mystics are not playing good basketball. F Chamique Holdsclaw is out another week or so with an injured foot. G Nikki McCray's season-long slump continues. The team's decision making has been quite poor most of the season. Washington settles for too many perimeter shots instead of penetrating the lane and / or attacking the low post. Another concern is the team seems to just go through the motions in games instead of playing with passion and effort for an entire game. They're still in contention for a playoff spot; but, the Mystics need to turn around this malaise in a hurry.
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