Monday, June 1, 2009

The American Basketball League: The Best Seasons

The power of Natalie.

I've finally managed to enter as much of the ABL statistics as I've possibly could. My stats are complete except for the "games started" stat for the 1997-98 and 1998-99 seasons and I'm lacking some info on personal fouls for the cup-of-coffee players that played in the 1996-97 season. It took me a long time to enter all of that in a spreadsheet; I'm just happy to be done.

As a little bit of celebration, let's look back on the great seasons and great players of the American Basketball League.

Greatest Seasons in the ABL by Adjusted Wins Score

1. Natalie Williams, 1997-98 Portland Power: 430.3. Williams's amazing season, where she shot 55 percent from the floor and pulled down an amazing 508 rebounds might be part of the reason that the Portland Power won the Western Conference Championship in 1997-98. Unfortunately, the Power would be swept by the Long Beach Stingrays 2-0 in the ABL Semifinals.

2. Yolanda Griffith, 1997-98 Long Beach Stingrays: 319.5. More amazing shooting with a 54.1 percent shooting percentage. 493 rebounds and 138 steals in 44 regular season games.

3. Carolyn Young, 1997-98 New England Blizzard: 261.3. Young had a 41.1 percent 3-point shooting percentage and hit 86 percent of ther free throws. The Blizzard at 24-20 finished second to the mighty Columbus Quest at 36-8, and were swept by the San Jose Lasers in the first round of the 1997-98 playoffs. Jones, according to the Font Of All Knowledge, Wikipedia, is one of only five women to make the All-ABL first or second team for both full seasons of the WNBA. The others were Williams, Teresa Edwards, Dawn Staley and Adrienne Goodson.

4. Cindy Brown, 1996-97 Seattle Reign: 243.0. The Reign, unfortunately, finished one game short of the playoffs. Brown shot 52 percent from the floor and 41 percent from the free throw line. Who remembers that Cindy Brown won a gold medal in the 1988 Olympics?

5. Shalonda Enis, 1997-98 Seattle Reign: 241.8. Enis was another 40-percent-plus 3-point shooter. This season would earn Enis the Rookie of the Year award in the ABL. Enis would play one year for the Mystics and four more years for the Charlotte Sting. After the 2003 season, Enis would disappear.

6. Crystal Robinson, 1996-97 Colorado Xplosion: 230.6. Robinson was shooting an incredible 46.6 percent from 3-point range. This season would clinch Robinson the other of the two Rookie of the Year awards. Robinson is now an assistant coach for the Mystics.

7. Taj McWilliams-Franklin, 1996-97 Richmond Rage: 223.7. The Richmond Rage were only around for one season, but at least it gave us Taj McWilliams-Franklin. The Rage moved to Philadelphia the next year, but McWilliams-Franklin is one of the sole survivors of the ABL. Taj currently plays for the Detroit Shock.

8. Natalie Williams, 1996-97 Portland Power: 208.5. This was Natalie's warm-up season. Williams would play until age 34 in the WNBA.

9. Katie Smith, 1997-98 Columbus Quest: 197.8. Can you believe that Katie Smith was ever this young? Smith shot almost 90 percent from the free throw line. Incredible. I'm sure she and Taj share a lot of memories.

10. Carolyn Young, 1996-97 New England Blizzard: 194.3. The Blizzard would finish 16-24 for a last place finish. According to Carolyn Young, she was Christmas shopping in 1998 when she got the news that the ABL had folded. ''My husband called me,'' she said. ''He said: 'I've got some bad news for you. The league has folded.' I told him, 'You must be kidding.' I didn't believe him.''


Robin said...

Maybe Crystal Robinson played for the Colorado Explosion team? Not the Quest.

pt said...

Corrected...and thanks for catching that!