Monday, May 16, 2011

Who is Lauren Prochaska?

Lauren Prochaska is an undrafted, rookie guard out of Bowling Green University in Ohio. She was recently ranked #26 on the list of the 50 best high school athletes in Ohio in the past decade. She was a four time All-Ohio selection out of Johnathan Alder High School in Plain City, Ohio where she ranked sixth all time in the state for scoring and holds the state career record for made free throws. At Bowling Green she was named Mid-Atlantic Conference player of the year and named on the MAC all-conference first team two years in a row. She is a well rounded player, leading her team in scoring and placing second in rebounding, assists, blocks and steals for her senior season. For that senior season she shot 40% overall, 38% from three and 91% from the free throw line.

My opinion: While her shooting may be impressive, I believe Prochaska will also be one of the first cuts made this week clearing room for the return of Sue Bird and Swin Cash to camp. The Storm are strongest at the guard position, and I don't believe that Lauren offers enough height at 5'11" to fit the mold of a swing player at the forward position where the Storm are currently thin.

Who is Courtney Ward?

Courtney Ward is an undrafted, rookie guard from Florida State. Ward was a key player at Jefferson Davis High School in Montgomery, Alabama winning a state championship in her final year. She was a top 100 ranked player coming out of high school and had a solid career at FSU, taking ownership of the starting position midway through her sophomore season and serving as team captain in this past season as a senior. She played particularly well in the the last two NCAA tournaments. She led the ACC in assists in 2009-2010. She has solid shooting range and actually shot better from distance (40%) than she did overall (38%) her senior year at FSU.

My opinion: Ward will be among the first players cut this week. Whether she performs well or not, the Storm are very strong at the guard position with Bird, Wright, and Smith with Cash able to play the two guard in a bigger lineup as well. The Storm are in much greater need of strong swing players to back up Swin Cash, and Coach Agler has shown a preference for swing forwards that can play both forward positions.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Who is Aneika Henry?

I know I have been gone for a quite a while, but as WNBA camps begin to open, and my workload is starting to level out, I find myself with a little bit of time and a lot of passion about basketball. This post is the first in a series looking at the new faces rolling into camp next week. Cuts will need to be made quickly as camp rosters are limited 15 players. With the late start to the season, the starters will be available earlier in camp than in the past. With 17 players on the roster, the first two cuts should happen in the first week.

Aneika Henry is an undrafted rookie who graduated from Florida in 2009. While she is Jamaican, she played high school basketball in Coral Gables, playing basketball for the very first time as a freshman. Her athleticism, length and wingspan weren't enough to earn her college recruitment and she attended junior college at Seminole Community College through 2007. She played for their team in her sophomore year. She played in every game in her two years as a gator, but she came off the bench and averaged less than 4 points, 4 rebounds and 2 blocks in about 13 minutes per game.

She has moved on to play in Europe, and had quite a successful season playing for Mann Filter Zaragoza averaging 9 points, 7 rebounds and a block across the Spanish league play and 11 points and 8.5 rebounds in Eurocup play. She had a bit of a mix with regards to performance, but had a number of strong games in both seasons. She struggled scoring and rebounding against WNBA caliber players such as Rebekah Brunson and Michelle Snow, but did quite well against the majority of the Europeans and quite well against former Oklahoma star, Courtney Paris. She was the first woman to dunk in a Spanish league game.

My pre-camp opinion: Aneika will need to play exceptionally well on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor in order to displace the veteran bench fixture, Ashley Robinson. Ashley has a reputation with the coaching staff for consistent commitment and effort in practice (though she sees little time in games) and has been lauded for her positive impacts on team chemistry. Filling the last post position for the Storm and overcoming the history and experience of a well liked veteran will be an uphill battle for this rookie despite the appeal of her rookie scale salary.