WNBA players look back and look ahead.

Strengths and Weaknesses from Last Season

As the 2006 WNBA season kicks into gear, some teams feature new lineups and coaches while others are looking to continue building on some of the successes of last season. Perhaps no one knows the keys to a team's success than the players themselves. With that in mind, we asked some of the top players in each conference to break down their teams' overall strengths and weaknesses as well as to share their thoughts on what is needed for a successful season.
Players: Eastern Conference | Western Conference

Eastern Conference

Helen Darling, Charlotte Sting
Pro: "I really believe we have strong personnel and I am really just looking forward to the experience of playing together again. I love just playing because we have excellent players. We just need to put it together."
Con: "Overall I would say our biggest weakness was our overall depth."

Coco Miller, Washington Mystics
Pro: "I think our strengths were that we had a lot of athleticism in the post and on the wings, a fast team."
Con: "We have to do a better job of playing together all the time and we'll be in good shape."

Swin Cash, Detroit Shock
Pro: "Our strength was that we had the talent, we had the potential and everything in place."
Con: "We did not effectively utilize that talent and did not realize what sacrifices we had to make to be a team of destiny."

Ruth Riley, Detroit Shock
Pro: "We have a lot of talent on our team, and I think with Swin healthy, and Katie being there, and Kedra Holland, we're gonna have a lot of weapons, it's going to be fun to watch and fun to play with."
Con: "Our weakness is that we definitely underachieved last season. We didn't come together on the court in the way that we could have."

Katie Smith, Detroit Shock
Pro: "Our strength is our talent. We have an enormous amount of talent in the guard and the post. We need to use our energy in positive ways and not worry about the things beyond our control and be more consistent. I was with the team for just about a month last season and we were inconsistent with our effort and our concentration game in and game out."
Con: "We didn't get a chance to really play together. Swin was out and I came late. This year, I believe Bill will implement a system that works for our team. We don't really have a true point guard, but have a lot of people who can play the game. So if we have a system that works for all of us and we buy into it. Much of it will be about having court time together, but also party finding an offense that brings out all of our strengths. We will focus on our mental toughness and that will be huge for us. We have all the talent in the world to be as good as we want to."

Becky Hammon, New York Liberty
"Well my team's going to look totally different, so I can't even give you a legitimate answer right now. It's hard to say what kind of team we're going to be. The one thing I can guarantee you is that we're going to play hard and get after it."

Tamika Catchings, Indiana Fever
Pro: "I think our strength was our defense, we were a great defensive team. Our chemistry was awesome, both on and off the court. A lot of times you look at the great teams, and you have to have chemistry, to win a championship. I think that was a huge reason why we got as far as we did."
Con: "I would have to say height, as a team we were really small. At times I think our height and our speed, we weren't really quick, when you look at Sacramento winning the championship and you look at their team, they're quick, they have athletes, and they can get up and down the court, so we say what can we do to get quicker."

Lindsay Whalen, Connecticut Sun
Pro: "Our strengths were sharing the ball, we started off on record pace for assists last year, assists per game and total assists."
Con: "One thing we could improve is team defense, although I though we improved a lot on that from my first year to my second year, but I think that could always be improved, just picking up where we left off is going to be the challenge, you get that close two years in a row, sometimes the easy thing to do is just breeze through, what we'll do and what we have to do to get back there is work that much harder."

Brooke Wyckoff, Chicago Sky
"I think the most important thing in our first season is to put ourselves out there in the community and really promote the team and the sport of women's basketball. Obviously we want to win and will work hard, but a primary focus will be to get the city of Chicago excited about us being there. I have talked with many of the senior staff and management with the team and they have season tickets goals as well as marketing and sales goals. The arena seats 6,900 people, so if we can sell that, it would be great. Maybe not every game, but we should be able to do it."

Western Conference

Kendra Wecker, San Antonio Silver Stars
"There were definitely highs and lows last season. We were dealing with injuries all season long. First I tore my ACL and then LaToya got hurt and things spiraled downward from there. We lost our confidence. Then we won a few games in a row and that boosted the morale a little bit."

Kristen Mann, Minnesota Lynx
"Consistency was our biggest shortcoming a year ago. We were so up and down, but got off to a slow start, which made things very difficult to recover from. We also need to dictate the course of the game more."

Kelly Miller, Phoenix Mercury
"I'm looking forward to being on Phoenix this season. I think playing in Paul Westhead's system will really suit my style of play quite well. I'm exciting and looking forward to playing with Diana Taurasi. From what I know and have heard about Paul Westhead's style of play, I think we'll be looking for players who like to run and play an up-tempo style of play."

Niele Ivey, free agent, with Phoenix Mercury last season
"Inconsistency was a weakness. I came in the middle of the season, we had a lot of players coming in and out, some foreigners that had to leave, and think that impacted our team because it took a while to gel, when we need to to in the end, it took a little more time, so hopefully this year everything will be set, the roster will be set, and you know players can come over and stay and I think that will make a huge difference."

Lisa Leslie, Los Angeles Sparks
"Last season was such a blur to me. There were injuries that I endured and never really got back to 100%. That was the most difficult. Having Chamique come to our team, the dynamics of our team changed and sometimes it just takes time to develop the chemistry that you need to win. I thought we started to do that there in the end, but we just ran out of time. Overall, we feel good about our chances and our ability to score. I think I will be a better player, Chamique will be a better player and Mwadi Mabika will be a better player. We have the tools and everything it takes, so it's just a matter of putting it together under the right coaches."

Sancho Lyttle, Houston Comets
"I don't know who is coming back strong or coming back weaker, with the new expansion team , who knows, I know that we are going to get further than where we did last season, and I'm trying to get stronger than where I was last season. We need to be more focused in the beginning instead of waiting until towards the end, making every game we play count, and taking it like every team could beat us and that every team we play we need that one win to make it further into the playoffs."

Betty Lennox, Seattle Storm
"The main thing for me as far as a weakness goes last year is that we were lacking leadership. Sometimes leadership is put into certain people's hands and it may not necessarily best suit them for that job. We lacked leadership around the whole team. The chemistry was there, but it was not consistent. We need to be a little bit more focused on what we're doing, how important the game is, pay attention to each situation, each play and just be more focused throughout the entire game, the entire 40 minutes. That then comes back around to those leadership roles to remind the players to stay focused. Then you get into the habit of winning and become a team like the Detroit Pistons. They are amazing. I watch them and I say that I wish, I hope. With Lauren Jackson, Sue Bird and myself, we will continue to get stronger. I've only played two seasons with them and hopefully those years behind us will make a huge difference. We can get together, be even more comfortable and make everyone else around us better."

Sue Bird, Seattle Storm
"The one thing that I will take with me - the only thing I will take with me - is just how I felt, probably still feel, when we lost those games against Houston. That feeling is really what can motivate a team and can motivate an individual. I think, overall, did we have a successful season? Absolutely. We did some great things, and I don't think a lot of people expected to do them in terms of our record and what not. But the bottom line is we came up short, and I think that's something that everyone will be thinking of come training camp."

Kristin Haynie, Sacramento Monarchs
Pro: "Our defense is one of our great strengths. We topped many of the defensive statistical categories and that is what got us to the Finals. We have great chemistry and like playing together."
Con: "We were so good, I can't think of any real weaknesses. Yet, there is always room for improvement. Last year seems like so long ago, but we need to take care of the ball better. Losing Chelsea Newton to the Chicago expansion will be tough. She was my buddy and I'm going to miss her. That will be a big hole to fill because she was such a great defender for us and made things hectic for opposing point guards bringing the ball up the court. That will be a big loss for us."