2011: Vol. 3, Issue 4************************
By David Zingler
With the WNBA season a month old and a quarter of the schedule nearly gone, let's take a look at some of the
league's most surprising and disappointing teams and players in the early going. (Note: All statistics are as of June 30)
San Antonio Silver Stars
In the two seasons following their WNBA Finals appearance
in 2008, San Antonio went just 29-39. They looked like a team headed for a rebuilding season. Veteran Becky Hammon however,
didn't have time for that. The 34-year-old point guard leads the WNBA in assists and has piloted the resurgent Silver Stars
to the top of the Western Conference. The underrated Sophia Young remains a top post threat and rookie Danielle Adams (more
on her later) is providing punch off the bench.
Most Disappointing Team
this season many had high hopes for Atlanta. Instead, 2011 has been a nightmare for the Dream thus far. The defending Eastern
Conference champs have limped out to a 3-7 start, including a baffling 2-5 mark at home. Despite their struggles, Atlanta
has not been the WNBA's worst team -- that distinction belongs to Tulsa. Then again, not much was expected of the Shock.
Sylvia Fowles, Chicago
When Shaquille O'Neal retired last month, many mourned
his loss and cited the lack of dominant centers in the game. While that may be true on the men's side, Sylvia Fowles has filled
the bill in the women's game. The 6-6, 200 lb. LSU product leads the WNBA in scoring, blocks and efficiency rating. While
she's been good to great in the past, Fowles has now entered the "dominant" category.
Renee Montgomery, Connecticut
4th overall pick in 2009 by the Lynx is enjoying a breakout season for the Sun. The 24-year-old point guard is 4th in the
league in scoring at 18.9 points per game and tied for 7th in assists.
Rebekkah Brunson, Lynx
In the season's
first month Brunson has emerged as the league's top glass cleaner. The 8-year veteran is on pace to smash all of the WNBA's
rebounding records and has been the best player on a star-studded team. A whirling mass of elbows and knees, Brunson is usually
not the biggest player on the court, but she is always the most active and tenacious.
Most Disappointing Players
A big reason the Dream have stumbled out of the gate has been the subpar play of Harding. The point
guard is shooting 40% from the field - 27% from 3-point range - while averaging a pedestrian 3.9 assists per game. Not what
Atlanta had in mind when they acquired the former All-Star in blockbuster, draft day trade.
For reasons that remain murky, McCarville has been suspended by the Liberty for the entire season for not
reporting to training camp. Whatever the case, it's too bad fans won't see the former Gophers star on the court this summer.
Injuries to MVPs
Rumors of Candace Parker's resurgence have been greatly exaggerated. Sidelined six weeks
with a torn lateral meniscus in her right knee, the 2008 MVP will miss a large portion of the Sparks' season for the third
consecutive year. Seattle's Lauren Jackson, meanwhile, is out eight to 12 weeks with a torn labrum in her left hip. Even before
the injury Jackson wasn't her normal self. In five games, the 3-time MVP was averaging just 9.2 points per game - 10 below
her career average - and shooting a miserable 30% from the field.
Most Surprising Rookie
Adams, San Antonio
Drafted 20th overall, Adams wasn't a lock to make the team, let alone be the early favorite for
Rookie of the Year honors. After leading Texas A&M to the National Championship this spring, the portly forward has continued
her winning ways as a pro, leading all rookies in scoring and placing second in rebounds despite not starting a single game
thus far. She's a huge reason the Silver Stars have the league's best record right now.
Ta'Shia Phillips, Atlanta
It's way too early to judge any rookie harshly, but Phillips
- the 8th pick in April's draft - has struggled to get into the Dream's rotation. The 6-6 center is averaging just 1.5 points
and 0.8 rebounds in 6 minutes per game backing up Erika de Souza.