Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Nebraska @ Kansas State

Kansas State's 5'9" senior point guard is who the folks at WNBA Draft Net:2009 are mocking for the Storm's 12 pick, so I paid more attention to this game and this player than I usually would for an individual. I will caveat that I provide the statistical data for that site, but I have nothing to do with the mock draft. I do provide input into WNBA Comparisons and the site "score" for the players along with thoughts on strengths and weaknesses. That said, I am not sure I am aligned perfectly with their analysis on this player.

They put Shalee compared to Tully Bevilaqua which would be music to the ears of many long term Storm fans who lament the fall of the Storm since Tully went east for a starting job in Indiana. Whalen was the best rebounding point in the W last season, but there is no other similarity. I don't think there is a current comparison, and perhaps I have not been around long enough for the old school options. I can't say who I would compare Lehning to in the WNBA because of her rebounding capabilities.

Lehning is nowhere near the on ball defender that Tully was for the Storm, and she lacks the requisite range from downtown. She is, however, hands down, the BEST rebounding point guard I have seen in the women's game. I thought Jhasmin Player from Baylor was a good rebounder, and she is not even in the same league as Lehning. Shalee has that impossible to teach nose for the ball. The former New Jersey Net center (and current convict) Jayson Williams used to talk about the "desire" needed to be a great rebounder. Lehning has more desire to rebound that ball than any player I have watched in the women's game. If she were 6 or 7 inches taller she would rebound like Cheryl Ford. As it is, she has averaged 7RPG over her college career. In addition to the knack to judge the rebounding angle, she uses speed and smarts to get to the ball. Every time the ball goes up she is moving to the right position. If she is not boxed out, held or the rebounder remembers to look for her behind them, she is going to make a reach for that ball. She leads her team in rebounding from the point guard position. She personally grabs 20% of the available defensive rebounds and 6% of the available offensive rebounds. From the point guard position she is my #2 overall defensive rebounder. She pulls down a higher percentage of the available defensive rebounds than any of my top 100 seniors except for Courtney Paris with whom she is TIED. That is something of which EVERY WNBA GM should take notice.

She is excellent at penetration, a great passer (she surprised some team mates with brilliant passes in this game) and shoots a high percentage. She is 8th overall in Floor percentage for the 100 seniors I am tracking, 20th for eFG% and 17th for True Shooting. She takes and makes very few three pointers shooting 12 for 36 on the season. She has a great sense of pace and controls it at both ends of the floor. Her team is 14th in the nation and tops in the Big 12. My main complaint in this game is that she didn't look for her own shot enough. She had some open looks that she should have taken, though many ended up as assists. Lehning ended this game with 7 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 steals and 3 turnovers in 39 minutes. This was a low scoring game, low assist game for Lehning with high steals. She is the only player in Big 12 history (according to the announcers) with at least 1000 points 800 rebounds and 700 assists.

She is a clear 1st rounder, and though she is my highest ranked point guard so far this season, the players like Montgomery, Toliver and Cirone will likely go earlier leaving her free for the Storm should they choose to take that route in the draft. She is 7th overall for me at this point in the season ahead of Cirone (a marvelous shooter) at 10th, Montgomery (a great complimentary player) at 21st and Toliver (the hyped one) at 22nd.

The second senior I watched in this game was Marlies Gibson, a 6' forward. She is certainly too small to play the power forward, but I liked her tenacity in this game. She wasn't scoring, and would not have scored at all if Lehning hadn't passed up an open shot to give her a lay up at the end of the game on a give and give an go. Despite that, Gipson had 5 assists from the center position, repeatedly finding an open Ashley Sweat or a guard to finish for her. She ended the game with 2 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals and 3 turnovers in 32 minutes. I think she is another tough comparison. She is small for a 4 and not athletic enough for a three. From a Storm perspective, that says Camille Little for me, but she is not as skilled around the basket. Statistically she ranks #16 overall so far this season for me, coming up strong in BoxScores, Adjusted Win and Defensive Rebounding %. She also shows in Floor %, eFG% a and adjusted Individual Rating. Withouth her teams strong RPI though, she would not rate in Wins or IR. I don't see her getting drafted when there are good posts available with size. If she were to go overseas and work on her athleticism, she might have a chance to make a training camp in the future.

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