If we thought last years Lisa Leslie MVP was a sham, because of her better rebounding numbers and 2nd half performance...this year is even worse of a sham. Lauren Jackson appears to be considered either one of the top two players in the league, or not worthy of consideration by the voters. I can't really believe that voters from the "unbiased" media who want their candidate to win would really leave the chief competitor off their ballots, but the voting results are somewhat odd.
Media are asked to vote for their five top candidates in order. Points are awarded in higher amounts for higher placings. Swoopes was able to overcome LJ's higher number of 1st place votes by her higher number of overall votes and the heavy weighting of votes for her in the middle of the pack. What is remarkable to me is that at least some voters did not even consider LJ as a top 5 candidate. I realize that at least the Sacramento broadcast team falls into that category, but are they the only two missing votes, or are there more?
I am glad that Tamika Catchings is so highly recognized and managed to take the number three position...she is a solid all-around player who I expect to keep getting better. I agree with the overall top 5 vote getters, though there is no reason at the bottom of the pack that Lisa Leslie outscores Chamique Holdsclaw who out-played her La Diva teammate all season long.
2005 ALL WNBA Teams
Storm fans can at least take solace in their dominance of the all first team. Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson join Swoopes, Yolanda Griffith and Deanna Nolan on the all first team. I like this grouping, though Catchings is hurt by her position being ousted by Swoopes and Jackson. Catchings, clearly one of the top 5 players in the league is relegated to the second team with Becky Hammon, Diana Taurasi, Taj McWilliams-Franklin and La Diva, Lisa Leslie. Here Holdsclaw is pushed off the team by Taj and Catchings by nature of position, leaving the less deserving Leslie to make the team over her more deserving team mate. I appreciate Lisa's abilities, talents and her contributions to the game...I still think Holdsclaw played better this year. The talent at the two forward spots in the WNBA is clearly the strength of the league. The guards are getting better, and dynamic players like Taurasi will help in that respect. It is disappointing not to see Lindsey Whalen make the list, but I am not sure who I would take off to make room for her. I would happily bump Leslie to make room for Michelle Snow, another deserving candidate at the center position. Nolan is the only representative from the East on the first team, with the East dominating the second team.
WNBA Finals Game 3
I hate to say it, but I think Coach Thibault cost his team this game. I love Lindsay Whalen's game, but she is hurting her team on the floor right now. I am not just refering to her 5 turnovers, and 25% shooting in the game. I mean that the rest of the team is not playing well when she is on the floor. It is obvious to those of us watching that she is more than a step slow on defense, she can't get her legs under her jumper, and she can't convert when driving to the basket. She needs to contribute in other ways. Her teammates, however seem to be expecting her to play like she is 100% when she is on the floor. When she is out of the game there is motion in their offense and help on defense, when she is in the game they all wait for Lindsay to initiate the offense and leave her alone on defense. Coach Thibault left her in the game too long, and it really cost them, leaving them a double digit deficit in the second half. As soon as he pulled her the team made a run and got within 2 points. It was just too late and Sacramento regrouped, tightened up defensively and began to score. This game was not really all that interesting until the last five minutes of play. The highlight up to that point was Katie Douglas tipping a Monarchs pass right into a surprise Coach Thibaults face. This, unfortunately, appeared to knock some sense into him as well as knocking off his glasses and giving him a gash on the bridge of his nose. Whalen did not return, and I don't expect to see her in the starting lineup on Tuesday.
Griffith and McWilliams-Franklin put up another excellent game in this years finals. Yo won the scoring duel at 19 points to Taj's 16, but Taj led the rebounding battle 13-11 and the blocks battle 3-1. They were both very efficient from the field, but Yo got to the free throw line 4 more times. Powell was a factor hitting 4 of her 8 threes, but hit her first 3 in the first half of play and was mostly absent for the rest of the game. Kara Lawson was shooting well, hitting both her 3's and going 4-7 from the field. More impressive she showed some additions to her game on some drives to the basket. Nykesha Sales looked like she was going to get hot and try and take over the game, but with no one else contributing while Taj was on the bench, Sales 1 on 5 offense just couldn't overcome the deficit.
Game 4 is on Tuesday...but I will be on the road and won't see it until late Wednesday...so my thoughts will have to wait until Thursday morning. I expect to see another close game leading to Sacramento's first franchise title. I don't expect to see Whalen start, and I doubt that she will even play. It is do or die for Connecticut, but I don't think Sayles and McWilliams-Franklin can overcome the Monarchs on their own in Arco Arena in an elimination game.