Charlotte Sting: 2006 Preview
Nothing stings quite like a 6-28 season, the worst in Charlotte's history. There are many reasons, though, to believe they can avoid a similar fate in 2006.
The biggest - not literally, of course - is Muggsy Bogues, who assumed the head coaching reins during the final month of the 2005 season. A 5-3 guard who starred for years with the NBA's Charlotte Hornets, Bogues immediately enhanced his reputation as one of the game's best leaders.
Taking over a 3-21 team that had just lost forward Allison Feaster (pregnancy) and traded All-Star point guard Dawn Staley, Bogues coaxed the Sting to three wins in their final 10 games, including their only road win of the season.
"Last year when I came in, I was just trying to instill a sense of confidence back into our players," Bogues told charlottesting.com.
This season, he'll work on improving a league-worst offense that averaged only 61.6 points per game (66.9 under Bogues) and shot only 40.4 percent from the field.
Bogues should have a few more offense weapons at his disposal. Feaster is back after giving birth to a daughter in February. Joining her on the perimeter is Monique Currie, the first of Charlotte's two first-round picks in the April draft. The 6-0 guard/forward, a two-time All-America selection, averaged 15.1 ppg and was part of three Final Four teams at Duke.
"She's a versatile player who can go at the one, two or possibly three, so we're going to let her grow," Bogues said of Currie on draft day. "We're not going to go out and put a lot of pressure on her. She has great veterans in front of her right now that will be a great compliment to her."
Charlotte's top three scorers, forward Tangela Smith (13.6 ppg), guard Sheri Sam (11.4 ppg) and center Tammy Sutton-Brown (9.4) all return, as does Helen Darling, who actually put up better numbers (7.0 ppg, 5.6 apg) than Staley (6.3 ppg, 5.3 apg) when she assumed starting point guard duties in August.
Continuity should aide the Sting, who were incorporating two new starters - Sam and Smith - into their lineup a year ago. All five starters return this season, and the only notable departures are reserves Teana Miller (pregnant) and Jia Perkins (expansion draft).
McCarville, the WNBA's top overall draft pick in 2005, hopes to rebound from a disappointing rookie campaign. She had her season derailed by a back injury in the second game of the season which forced her out of action for five games and hindered her development. She averaged only 1.8 points and 2.7 rebounds in 28 games.
She will have some competition in training camp from Tye'sha Fluker, the team's other first round pick. A 6-5 center from Tennessee, Fluker averaged 9.3 points and 4.9 points as a senior and was regarded as the best post player in this year's draft.
rookies Currie, Fluker and LaToya Bond, a point guard from Missouri, can make
contributions right away, or if McCarville can take a quantum leap this season,
the Sting can easily double its win total. If Bogues is relying on his starters
- average age, 29 - to play 33-34 minutes a night, it won't happen.