San Antonio Silver Stars
2005 In Review:
What Went Right?
Not much. At 7-27, only the
Charlotte Sting (6-28) finished with a poorer record than the Silver Stars, who
closed out last season with a nine-game skid. And it didn't get much better in
the offseason, as the Silver Stars had a 26.1 percent chance to take the top pick
in the 2006 WNBA Draft. For the second consecutive draft, they fell to the No.
4 pick, when two Western Conference teams, Minnesota (No. 1) and Phoenix (No.
2), vaulted them and the Sting, who pick third.
"Going into the offseason we felt it was very important to keep Marie in a Silver Stars uniform," Silver Stars coach Dan Hughes said when Ferdinand put pen to paper last month. "We are pleased to sign Marie and are looking forward to continuing our relationship with her.
"She's been a fixture in the San Antonio community the past three seasons and I know our fans will be looking forward to her return." Ferdinand, however, is expected to miss the first half of the season as she is expecting her first child in June.
By signing two-time All-Star Vickie Johnson, the Silver Stars made sure they had insurance during Ferdinand's absence. Johnson will definitely bring WNBA Finals experience to the table, as she appeared in five Finals with the New York Liberty.
And even though she's one of the few original WNBA players still left in the league, Johnson's numbers have not slipped. A gritty competitor with a smooth outside game, Johnson averaged 10.4 points per game for the Liberty last season, a shade under her 11.5 career average.
Add Johnson to a backcourt that feature's four-time All-Star Shannon "Pee Wee" Johnson, who was fourth in the league with 4.6 assists per game, and the Silver Stars could have one of the more experienced and steady backcourts in the WNBA.
They'll need it to help the team's other bright spot, second-year center, Katie Feenstra, grow into her role as a force in the paint. Though she averaged only 8.8 ppg in her rookie season, Feenstra led the team in scoring in nine games and in rebounding 13 times. Not bad for someone who only started 14 games. But like most rookies, Feenstra was inconsistent. She will need to be steadier for the Silver Stars to improve. The Silver Stars should also have more continuity on both ends of the floor, as Hughes enters his second season.
What Went Wrong?
It couldn't have been a good omen for the season when rookie Kendra Wecker blew out her ACL 11 minutes into the Silver Stars' first game. Wecker, the 2004-05 Big XII player of the year, showed that she could be back on track. Wecker made an appearance at the NBA All-Star Weekend and helped the San Antonio squad capture the Shooting Stars competition title.
In addition to Wecker's injury, the Silver Stars' leading scorer in 2004, LaToya Thomas, suffered a torn labrum in her shoulder in the season's ninth game and was limited to 21 games overall.
These injuries left the Silver Stars' thin in the front court, and one thing in the Western Conference a team can't be is thin in the paint, as the Silver Stars' were outrebounded by more than 3 boards per game, and blocked nearly two fewer shots per game than their opponents.
Also, it didn't help that the Silver Stars turned the ball over an average of 15.7 times per game, or an astonishing 40 percent of their possessions per game.
Looking Ahead To 2006:
As for Wecker and Thomas, can they come back at full strength and help shore up the front court? Will Feenstra become more consistent, more dominating and more intimidating? Can Chantelle Anderson, who averaged career highs in points (6.0) and rebounds (2.6), continue to improve. If so, the 6-6 Anderson will provide some much needed depth for the Silver Stars.
Can the Silver Stars overcome the loss of Wendy Palmer-Daniel, last season's second leading scorer (9.6 ppg), who went to Seattle in the offseason? With an experienced backcourt and a young and talented frontcourt, the Silver Stars should see improvement this season if, and of course, this is a big if, every one can stay healthy.
But with a deep and tough Western Conference and a so-so draft position, the Silver Stars will still have their work cut out for them this season.