Tuesday, August 26, 2008
What are the goals of each of the teams coming out of the break? We can make this easy.
1. Atlanta Dream - "Survive." For the Dream, the only goals left are personal goals. Betty Lennox and Ivory Latta will have the goal of avoiding injury. For other players, like Ann Strother or Kasha Terry, the goal will be to do enough to convince Marynell Meadors to keep them on for 2009. For players after their second year in the WBNA, salaries go from the $30,000 range to the $50,000 range - and if players haven't excelled in two years, they might be gone for good.
2. Chicago Sky - "Let Loose Big Syl.". Sylvia Fowles was supposed to be the anchor that would turn the Sky around, but Fowles went down with an injury. We've seen Fowles's great play in the Olympics, and it's time for Fowles to put an exclamation point at the end of the season. Chicago has to turn those turnstiles.
3. Washington Mystics - "Show You Care." The Washington Mystics fanbase is up in arms after another lousy Mystics season. Playoffs or no playoffs, the Mystics organization has to show that winning is an attitude and is not to be perpetually postponed. Coach Jessie Kenlaw has to motivate the team, and Tasha Humphrey has to shine with her new team - the second will have a lot to do with the first.
4. Phoenix Mercury - "Get The Lead Out." Who would have thought that the Phoenix Mercury would be in last place? Coming in late to training camp due to overseas play and a new coach has changed things more than one would have expected. Diana Taurasi was praised for her sparkplug attitude at the Olympics; the Mercury had better spark or they won't make the playoffs.
5. Indiana Fever - "Hang On to the Ball". The Fever play great defense. Offensively...not so much. Turnovers have been a big problem for the Fever, and the Fever have got to iron out a multitude of offensive problems if they're going to contend. Tully Bevilaqua will have no time to rest as the Fever might get the fourth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference entirely by default. Closing games is a problem for this team.
6. Minnesota Lynx - "Finish Over .500". The Lynx have at times clutched at adequacy - 18 wins was enough to get into the playoffs in 2003 and 2004, but it might not be enough to sneak into a playoff spot in a tough Western Conference. However, every time the Lynx have finished over .500, they've been to the playoffs (losing in the first round each time). If the Lynx could go 6-2, they'd become the best Lynx team ever - a major accomplishment for such a young team.
7. Houston Comets - "Grab Their Attention". With the Comets up for sale, the future of the team in Houston is in jeopardy. The Comets find themselves in contention for the fourth playoff spot in the Western Conference. If they can sneak in - and better yet, if Los Angeles doesn't make it in - WNBA watchers and casual lookers will be forced to pay attention to the Comets, and maybe, just maybe, one of those watchers will be the Comets' future HOUSTON owner.
8. Los Angeles Sparks - "Get The Backcourt Working." Despite having Lisa Leslie and Candace Parker, the Sparks need five players to contend. The Sparks have been desperately looking for guard help, and the window of opportunity has already closed. Los Angeles's backcourt needs to put the pieces together fast, for if they don't, it will be a disappointing end to a season that started with such promise.
9. Sacramento Monarchs - "Win on the Road". Three games left at home. Four on the road. However, the Monarchs are awful on the road, with a 5-8 record. (The only worse contender in the West on the road is Seattle.) The Monarchs have nothing but Western Conference teams left, and have to play Houston - which is fighting for survival of a different sort - twice.
10. Detroit Shock - "Kick in the Door". That's how Detroit always does it - kick in the door. With Cheryl Ford injured, Trader Bill Laimbeer picked up Taj McWilliams-Franklin, who made an escape from Washington. Taj will have to do the heavy share of the door-kicking for Detroit, to make the final push for the playoffs.
11. New York Liberty - "Go Ninja-Style". The Libs might be the most overlooked of teams, and I'm sure Coach Pat Coyle can deal with that. They've been glaringly inconsistent at times, but have magically managed to escape the radar of most of the East, and their upcoming home schedule is a "Dream" with one game against Atlanta and two against Chicago. New York might have the last laugh in 2008 after all.
12. Connecticut Sun - "Let Youth Rule". It's likely Mike Thibault never thought he'd be able to bring the Sun this far. The problem is, can they stay there? They might have the toughest post-break schedule of all teams, with two games against San Antonio and one against the Storm. It's good to have Asjha Jones's contract locked up, but youth has to put it all together for the Sun to make a drive to the title.
13. Seattle Storm - "Keep it Together". The collection of great - but old - players in Seattle is facing disaster. Lauren Jackson is out for the season. Swin Cash needs back surgery. At the most critical part of the year in the toughest conference, the Storm find themselves shorthanded in the worst way. Brian Agler has to find some bailing wire with two games against the Dream coming up, and Betty Lennox wanting to prove a point to Agler about why the Storm never kept her.
14. San Antonio Silver Stars - "Relax". The Official Becky Hammon Olympic Sideshow is over. Now with the media going elsewhere, San Antonio has the best chance to free itself from distractions and prepare for the playoffs. The Silver Stars have four road games coming up, and some road wins would be nice - the Silver Stars are only 6-7 on the road.