Monday, September 29, 2008

Finals Matchup Halfway Complete

Congrats to the San Antonio Silver Stars, your 2008 Western Conference champions. The Silver Stars rallied down the stretch at the AT&T Center yesterday to defeat Los Angeles for the second time in 28 hours and advance to the WNBA Finals for the first time. One of the observers who was happiest for San Antonio was Storm Head Coach Brian Agler, who spent the last three years as an assistant with the Silver Stars.

"I've got a lot of friends in San Antonio and I know those players and I know there are some players there that have had great careers that haven't won a championship. I know how much that would mean to them," Agler said last Friday. "It's obvious that because of my friendships with them, I would like to see them achieve their goals. But I also have a lot of respect for the other three teams too."

Even though the Sparks were eliminated, I gained a lot of respect for their ability as a team during their postseason run. I really thought L.A.'s guard play and inconsistency would be a major problem, but at no point during the playoffs did the Sparks beat themselves. They simply lost to a better team on the road, with a couple of tough calls going against them.

Los Angeles figures to be even more dangerous next year. With Shannon Bobbitt having a year of experience and Temeka Johnson further removed from microfracture knee surgery (she looked a lot healthier post-Olympics), the point-guard spot should be more stable. Really, the Sparks' offseason priority ought to be shooting guard, where Marie Ferdinand-Harris isn't the floor-spacer the team needs and Raffaella Masciadri is too limited for heavy minutes. I'm not sure if Spaniard Marta Fernandez, very effective at times during her rookie season in 2007, could be in the mix next year.

As for the Finals, our matchup will be complete tonight. Detroit and New York play a winner-take-all Game 3 back at Eastern Michigan University tonight at 4:00 p.m. on ESPN2. If the game comes down to the closing minutes again, the Liberty needs to do a better job of executing on offense. It was also baffling how Janel McCarville could be on the bench at key points of the game. The Shock figures to be tough to beat in a deciding game.

Either winner will have a quick turnaround with Game 3 scheduled for Wednesday in San Antonio. The extra day of rest will come in handy for a Silver Stars team that could really use a healthy Helen Darling and/or Edwige Lawson-Wade to add depth and allow Becky Hammon some quick breathers.

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