Thursday, February 26, 2009

Leading Senior Post Players

  1. Courtney Paris: 6'4" Oklahoma center. Courtney has set a virtually unbeatable record in NCAA Women's Basketball with triple digit, consecutive double doubles. That streak was broken this year in a win over Pat Summit's Tennessee Lady Vols. Courtney is a fantastic rebounder and is virtually unstoppable under the basket. She has serious bulk to back up her height and knows how to use it without fouling. The biggest knock on Courtney is that in the pros she will simply be out of shape and too heavy. Centers will be taller, stronger, faster, more athletic and more well rounded in the pros and her strengths will not be enough unless she improves her fitness.
  2. Ashley Paris: 6'3" Oklahoma power forward. This past summer, Ashley did what Courtney has yet to do. She lost weight, quite a bit of it. The change to her body has redefined her game and she has become the perfect post counterpart to her twin. She is faster, stronger and more athletic, plus she is a better outside shooter. She has played so well this year that she is somewhat of a golden girl with Bobbie Knight telling a national television audience (in his first role calling a women's game) that Ashley was the better of the twins based on that single Tennessee game. I still think that if you take Courtney off the team, Ashley's numbers drop considerably as the double teams move to her. Courtney's better numbers come given she is the first option for her team. They defend her more tightly, they focus on her, they TRY to box her out. Ashley gets a lot of freebies as a result.
  3. Natasha Williams: 6'3" DePaul power forward. I haven't seen Williams play yet this season. She is a great scorer, a great shooter and rates very high for BoxScore, but her rebounding is not all that impressive. I need to review her game to have some observations to back up the numbers.
  4. Ashley Walker: 6'1" California power forward. Ashley puts up great numbers but she is a bit undersized for a pro post and that will impact her place in the draft. She is a solid scorer, shooter and rebounder, but she has a fairly low offensive rating. That means that within her system, she does not produce as much offense as the other senior posts, she sat at the very bottom of this category. I haven't taken the time to watch Walker yet this season, though she started the season stronger than she is finishing. I am not sure how much the return of Devanei Hampton has impacted her numbers as she must share the post with a better player than with whom she started the year.
  5. Marshae Dotson: 5'11" Florida power forward. She is playing well on a strong team, but she hasn't stood out when I have seen her play, and she is by far too small to play the post in the pros. There are pro point guards taller and stronger than Dotson. I don't see Marshae going until the second round at best.
  6. Chante Black: 6'5" Duke center. Ah, a true post in size who actually puts up strong numbers! It seems like such a rarity in a draft full of overperforming undersized posts. Black is going to go in the first round, though she doesn't stand out enough to be selected by a team that is not looking for a post.
  7. Star Allen: 5'11" Ohio State power forward. Need I go on about size some more? Allen has bulk, power and feistiness that have led me to compare her to Latasha Byears. She could find a place on the bench of a 13 roster team in another year, but I don't think she sticks in this 11 player roster system.
  8. Robyn Fairbanks: 6'1" Utah Valley State center. She is an offensive power house in a "free agent" college program that is not tied to any conference. She has played well against ranked teams with solid posts in the past, but she is not likely to get enough attention to warrant a draft outside the third round at best.
  9. Candyce Bingham: 6'1"" Louisville power forward. Candyce puts up solid numbers next to potential #1 pick Angel McCoughtry. Angel draws so much attention that Candyce is easily overlooked. Strong tournament play could turn GM eyes her way.
  10. Noteisha Womack: 6'3" Seton Hall power forward. I am not sure that Womack's performance will be noted in a smaller school despite her decent size. There are lesser performing players with greater recognition likely to be drafted prior to Womack.

Honorable Mention: Aisha Mohammed (Virginia), Whitney Thomas (Indiana), Jessica Adair (George Washington), Lindsay Wysdom-Hylton (Purdue), Tiffany Green (Old Dominion), Marlies Gipson (Kansas State), Traci Edwards (Wisconsin Milwaukee), Christina Wirth (Vanderbilt)

Big Disappointments: Megan Skouby (Iowa), Kia Vaughn (Rutgers), Sybil Dosty (Arizona State), Rachel Allison (Baylor), Devanei Hampton (California)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Leading Senior Perimeter Players

I have added a split to my senior data to look at posts and perimeters separately...which included different weightings for shooting and rebounding. That is my first step towards improving the prospect ratings. I still need to add some individual stats to the mix like steals and blocks and track this years rookies as well as run the system over the best rookies of the past few years.

Here is how the current batch of senior perimeter players looks by my new ranking system:

  1. Dewanna Bonner: 6'4" Auburn small forward. Bonner is tall and lean...with the lean being her current biggest knock. Her height and length will make her a tough defender and tough to defend at the three in the pros. On the other side of the coin, she was simply pushed off the block by much shorter players who had greater strength and bulk. If it is tough for her to post in college it will be even harder for her to post in the pros.
  2. Marissa Coleman: 6'1" Maryland small forward. Coleman had a rough start to the season but has really come on strong as part of a senior tandem with Kristi Toliver. I think her numbers could be even better if Toliver learned to recognize mismatches even when the game is on the line.
  3. Kristi Toliver: 5'8" Maryland point guard. Toliver has a solid WNBA body, she is a great ball handler and has nice court vision, especially on the break. She has an amazingly quick release and a gorgeous fadeaway three she uses against bigger defenders when they switch on picks. She is not afraid to penetrate and take a hit in the lane. My biggest concern is that once she decides to take over a game, she drives with her blinders on and forgets that she has Coleman there to help. If her shot is on, they win, if her shot is off they lose. She needs to learn to lead by making the right choice rather than simply lead by keeping the ball in her own hands.
  4. Kristi Cirone: 5'8" Illinois State point guard. I haven't seen Cirone play yet this season (heading to the DVR to look for games shortly), but she shoots and scores even more effectively than Toliver. Her Floor Percentage is much higher than her Maryland counterpart and she offers slightly better shooting percentages as well. Essentially her numbers are all around better than Toliver's but her team has had less success with a lighter schedule. How much of that is due to the presence of Coleman on Maryland is not something I am prepare to vote on until I see Illinois State play.
  5. Danielle Gant: 5'11" Texas A&M small forward. Gant is a player that might be the Storm's pick at number 12 this Spring. She plays hard at both ends of the floor, and when they beat #2 Oklahoma this week she guarded much larger players like Courtney and Ashley Paris. In the second half she started a 17-0 A&M run with six points in less than a minute. By the end of the run, she was vomitting on the bench and had to miss the final seconds after sustaining a blow to the head in a previous game. On the court she never missed a beat, playing with fire and verve against a superior opponent. At that timeout she virtually collapsed having truly left it all out on the floor.
  6. Angel McCoughtry: 6'1" Louisville small forward. Angel offers physical gifts that could make her the number one pick in the draft. She has great length and athleticism which she uses to be perhaps the best wing defender in draft. If I could do a better job getting defense into my scoring system, she would likely be my number one as well. She rebounds well, blocks shots and leads the NCAA in steals. She needs to improve her shooting and learn how to use that length and athleticism to get higher percentage baskets. I struggled with a WNBA comparison for her leaving her somewhere between Sheryl Swoopes and Swin Cash which is not a bad place to be. I see her becoming a star in this league within a few years.
  7. Whitney Boddie: 5'9" Auburn shooting guard. I have to admit, I was so interested in watching Bonner play that I virtually ignored her team mate. I am hard pressed to find a particular thing at which Boddie excels, yet she does pretty well in every area I track pushing her near the top of the list. Playing with Bonner and lacking a standout attribute will hurt Boddie more in an 11 roster limit draft year than it would in past years.
  8. Shalee Lehning: 5'9" Kansas State point guard. Lehning is one of my favorite players this season. She has been either first or second in the NCAA all season in assists despite lacking real scorers to support her. She rebounds better than any point guard I have ever seen, particularly at the offensive end. She is always in the right spot for the rebound, and if the opponent corrals it and brings it down, she will rip it right out of their hands. She can get in the lane anytime she wants against every team she has played this season. The two biggest knocks against Lehning are her utter lack of 3 point shooting and concerns about her individual defense and poor lateral speed.
  9. Renee Montgomery: 5'7" Connecticut point guard. People love her or hate her. I think she will make a perfect complimentary player and could make a team like Phoenix or LA really shine. She has never been the star but has stepped up each year as her role has shifted under Geno's system. She knows when to get the superstar the ball and when to score it herself. She gets knocked for shot selection, but all I ever see is her coach telling her to shoot those open threes. She is small and could struggle against some of the taller, stronger guards in the pros.
  10. Amber Guffey: 5'7" Murray State point guard. Amber reminds me of Lindsay Whalen. She has the same build and the same fearless willingness to drive right into the trees and try to score or draw the foul. She is not a prober, when she heads to the paint she is going to get to the basket by you or through you. She is a strong shooter and a solid defender. My biggest concern is that a player from a small school will likely not get enough focus without a combine.

Honorable Mentions: Mandy Morales (Montana), Rachel Porath (UW Green Bay), Amber Bland (NC A&T), Briann January (ASU), Porchia Green (Ball State), Shavonte Zellous (Pittsburgh, another Agler watch list member)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

an LJ poem

Inspired by the thread on RebKell and the challenge for a pro Seattle poem...though I am no poet, it was fun to play one for a day...

Spring in Golden Tail

Grey breaks,
Cold damp warms.
Auburn youth rises in tail,
Tween two, round three or four or five
The Runner rises to shine.
A new spring emerges as the oated citrus finds the spiderless web amidst the emerald towers.

Spring returns the bird brings with it the wings that lead to flight.
Runner morphs to turn to fade to fall.
Gold from auburn back in tail,
New trails born as wasteland fades..
Oasis blooms...
Season ends though flight goes on in new life found.

Whose wings bring spring once more is lost as two to one...
Golden tail to trail to three, to turn, to fade to fall again
the end, too soon,
the season fades but golden tail stands tall
the crown is seized from the head whose tail has fallen
by ring, by hand by auburn past.

Spring flies in once more with flock in tow...
Golden tail with wings and flock to fly...
to trail to three to turn to fade to fall and fall and fall and fall...
Golden tail cannot grasp its golden dream...
a loss felt deep is followed by more...
from the depths of loss comes fire and furor and victory...
all who face the golden tail, the bird with beak askew, the flock
they fall and fall and fall again till noise and joy unfelt arises
the flock carries the bird with golden tail aloft and lifts a land aloft.

Spring roars in again...
migration rends the flock...
beak knocked askew once more...
yet still the trail the three the turn the fade the fall shall fly.
yet still the pain...
in limb in loss in heart in mind
the dream is wrenched from grasp again.

Spring limps in on battered limb...
the ticks the count the golden tail is held
counted, counted, stopped.
the pain blossoms as once the masses grew themselves...
yet worse...the fear...
clay from dusty bowls stirs fear of endings, of friends, of family.
more pain, more loss and stopped, stopped,

Spring roars in once more...
In health...
In fire...
In fury...
To turn to fade to fall to post to block to three to WIN.
Fear is stirred but fails but...
the turn the fade the post the block the three must fall
as must the fear.
Crown and scepter seized again but still...
The End?
unknown but stopped once more.

A Perfect Spring as golden tail and bird join flock so newly born...
fear is vanquished as hope and joy and dreams emerge...
To steal to block to turn to fade the three to fall and fall and fall again.
The bird and flock must fly alone as golden tail must seek again...
Gold, gold,
gold cannot be grasped and tail not gold must face the pain...

The bird awaits within its nest...
a new flock has formed to wait...
to wait...
to wait...
Emerald towers sway in gray unbroken,
cold damp unwarmed.
Will Spring return in golden tail
to trail to three to turn to fade to fall...
or only
to wait,
to wait
to wait.
We wait,
to scream to stand to leap to cry to hope to fill.
We wait.
to see to know...
we wait.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Yolanda to Indiana for sure, is LJ the next to leave?

After all the talk of the fantastic chemistry last season...the exodus begins. Swoopes was waived by the Storm on January 31st.

Just under one month later, Yolanda Griffith has signed with the Indiana Fever.

The Storm defense takes another huge blow. While JB is a strong offensive player and rebounder, she has never offered the kind length and commitment to rebounding and defense that made Yo the anchors for multiple, league leading, defensive teams including the 2008 Storm.

Additionally, it is now rumored that LJ has made the decision to sign...somewhere. Apparently, so has Tina Thompson. Many people are assuming LJ signs with Phoenix and Tina with LA, but there is not definitive word on that made public at this time. Theoretically there is a trade involved as well. A sign and trade that nets something in return for a loss of that magnitude lessens pain, but what can you get back for a player of that caliber?

I will withold my comments on the LJ part until we hear the final answer.

Losing Swoopes and Yo will definitely hurt the team's defensive capabilities, even in diminished physical capability these two women brought a wealth of defensive experience and intelligence to the floor for the Storm. Combined with Swin Cash, they created a strong blend of perimeter and post balance to complement 2007 Defensive Player of the Year Lauren Jackson. There is not a veteran free agent available to balance things out. Yes, the Storm will have some cap space to sign a top free agent, but the question is who that FA will be.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

More College Action

I am trying to get caught up with all my recorded games. I just finished Kansas State at Baylor. It was a defensive oriented game where neither team broke 30 in the first half. There were five senior prospects in the game, and a few showed up for this one. Jessica Morrow looked a lot better than the last game I saw her play, showing good footwork and decent shooting. Jhasmin Player reminds me more and more of Betty Lennox. She has been forced out of position to play the point for Baylor and is doing a nice job of things. She had a great and very unselfish assist on a 2 on 1 break where she passed to her trailer even though she was undefended at the basket. That is a decision that endears a PG to her team. Rachel Allison looked completely out of sorts. She appears to be suffering from a confidence issue and even her benching has not quite got her out of her funk. Her hustle is missing and she looks hesitant when she has the ball.

The star for me, again, was Shalee Lehning. I really like the way this woman plays the game. She is heavily scouted in the Big 12 and yet she still gets in the lane on every possession. If her team were hitting their shots they would have blown Baylor out of the game. She rebounds with amazing determination, simply ripping offensive rebounds away from bigger players. She has great floor vision and knows the capabilities of her team. A number of times the Baylor announcers were forced to note the unstoppable nature of Lehning's plays. They would run a play that everyone knew they were going to run and they would score anyway. Baylor was unable to pull away until they switched Morrow out on Lehning and denied everything but the three. If she ever gets that shot in her arsenal she will be a force to be reckoned with. I could see her light up the assist numbers with a shooting team like Phoenix. They could space the floor as she penetrates and get open shots all night long.

On a side note, former University of Houston and international forward, Mone't Sykes has launched a new blog targetted at teaching young girls about the game. Check it out if you are learning the game or have a daughter who has taken up the sport.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Top wing players in the draft

With the hints that Coach Agler is looking at a wing for his 1st round is my current top 10 list from a statistical basis. I have not seen all the wings play yet this season.

Dewanna Bonner 6'4" (Auburn)
Good scorer, key to the success of her team, high BoxScore rating, strong rebounder from the three spot with a good overall rating.

Angel McCoughtry 6'1" (Louisville)
Amazing defender, key to the success of her team, #1 in BoxScore, strong rebounder from the three spot awith a strong overall rating.

Natasha Williams 6'3" (DePaul)
Excellent shooter/scorer, important to the success of her team, reasonable BoxScore playing against top competition leads to high adjusted rating.

Danielle Gant 5'11" (Texas A&M)
Smaller than most of the small forwards, she is a strong scorer with decent impact on her team's success, a strong BoxScore and good adjusted rating.

Megan Warburton 5'11" (Utah)
Decent TS%, important to her team, very high BoxScore rating, and great defensive rebounder from the SG position.

Others: Mandy Morales (Montana), Megan Frazee (Liberty), Laura Kurz (Villanova), Shavonte Zellous (Pittsburg)

Gant and Zellous attend schools the Coach Agler suggested to STHs that we watch the rest of the season.

Monday, February 02, 2009

a post lease note

From Councilman Nick Licata

Thank you for writing me about the proposed 10-year contract between the City of Seattle and the Seattle Storm for the use of Key Arena.

The Council passed this contract today by a 7-0 vote.

I have seen the Storm play, and appreciate their commitment to Seattle. I appreciate their willingness to negotiate a reasonable contract with the City of Seattle for the use of Key Arena. We can now look forward to the Storm being part of the long-term future of Seattle Center and the Key Arena.


Nick Licata

More College Games

These are the three I got to see today:

Texas @ Oklahoma
What is there to say about the Paris sisters? Courtney is a beast on the low block. She has a nose for the ball and the size/strength to make sure she gets it at both ends of the floor. Excluding the bounce of the ball, if it is within reach, it is Courtney's. I have serious concerns about her ability to translate to the pros with the same impact unless she improves her fitness/athleticism and finds a midrange jumper. WNBA Player Comparison: Ebony Hoffman (hey that is the best I can do, she is an anomaly.) Courtney is #1 on my statistical list as of last week, and she has been there most of the year. Ashley will be a solid WNBA role player. She has more athletcism and fitness, but not the same nose or fire as Courtney. Ashley has been in my top 10 overall most of the year. Both will be first round picks, in my opinion.

Texas Tech @ Colorado University
Dominic Seals has been near the bottom of my Senior list all season. She reminds me of Ashley Robinson. She has this amazing physique. It is a combination of size and length that makes coaches drool. She just doesn't have the talent to put the ball in the basket that is needed. Look at Becky Hammon...her body says anything but basketball player, but she has this thing you can't teach that makes her great on the hardwood. We focus sometimes on physical potential and ignore the simple fact that basketball is more than length, height and jumping ability. There is no arguing the importance of those three things, but there is more to the game than those elements. Seals doesn't make a roster this year, ONLY because of the the 11 player limits. If she goes to Europe and learns a midrange jumpshot she gets a camp invite in 2010.

Rutgers @ Notre Dame
This is my second time seeing Kia Vaughn. Why is it that every game I watch the lady doesn't start. I mean, seriously, Vivian, I am just a simple west coast blogger interested in the WNBA. Why is it that every time I set my DVR for a Rutgers game, you bench Kia? How am I supposed to judge her pro capabilities? Seriously, of the 19 games you have played her, you have only brought her off the bench 3 times, and 2 of those 3 were games I was recording. So, anyways, she is my Kara Braxton for the year. She has an unrealized potential that we just don't get, but makes basketball smart people like SFO decide to put them in their rotation. Sometimes it works and sometimes it makes unpleasant odors in the room. Vaughn is in my top 50 for the year so far, but for some stupid reason, because she played for Vivian and based on their team success (thank you Epiphany) she will go in the late first or early second round. Their are more talented players that lack her "potential" who will get passed over just in case.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Swoopes Waived

Wow. We knew something was up with Sheryl based on Agler's evasive answers to the "What about Sheryl?" question yesterday. It was even more obvious when we all saw she was at the game but had not been at the event. It hit the press shortly after the game, perhaps so that Agler could speak to her face to face before making the cut.

Apparently the cost of signing, JB, Tanisha and the Mystery PG puts the rotation in the following shape already different than yesterday...

Sue Bird, Mystery Point Guard (?), Tanisha Wright
Tanisha Wright, Sue Bird, Katie Gearlds, Draft Pick or Camp Invitee (?)
Swin Cash, Katie Gearlds, Draft Pick or Camp Invitee (?)
Lauren Jackson (?), Camille Little, Ashley Robinson
Yolanda Griffith (?), Janell Burse (?), Ashley Robinson (?)