By Ann Meyers As told to Matt Wurst
Meyers, who was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003, broadcasts
WNBA and women's NCAA games for ABC and ESPN. She has also been a regular Blog
Squad contributor to WNBA.com throughout the 2004 season. She has been,
and will continue to be, all over your televisions this month, serving as an
analyst for playoff games.
With the 2004 WNBA Finals starting Friday, October
8, we asked Meyers to analyze the matchups.
(20-14, 2nd place)
(18-16, 2nd place)
What is the most intriguing matchup?
We are all looking forward to the Sue
but I'm not sure we'll see it as often as we think. Bird was the high profile
pick a few years ago and is coming off the Olympics while Whalen is the new,
talented kid on the block. The question is, will Lindsay even guard Sue? Sun
coach Mike Thibault mixes it up completely. He could put Katie
Douglas on Bird like he did with Becky
Hammon in the Eastern Conference Finals. I wouldn't be surprised to see
Whalen on Betty Lennox and
even Sheri Sam. The height difference there is not that great. He could even
put Nykesha Sales on Bird.
Inside, there are as many question marks as to what they can do. Do they put
on Lauren Jackson? I don't think you can let Lauren
pull Taj outside. So Sales on Lauren? McWilliams-Franklin or Wendy
Palmer on Kamila Vodichkova...?
It's hard to say right now. I think Seattle matches up a little bit better as
far as their players go. i wouldn't be surprised to see Lennox guarding Whalen
on the other end. Sue will probably guard her, so then Douglas has the height
advantage over Lennox. We'll see...
Which Storm player is the "X-factor?"
I think Sheri Sam has to play
well. In the first two games against Sacramento, she had a 13 turnovers. But
she was a huge factor in the Game 3 clincher with 12 points, 10 rebounds, 5
assists and fewer turnovers. If she starts shooting the ball well for them,
look out. Nykesha Sales is very effective on the defensive end if that matchup
takes place, but the Storm will compensate. The chemisty on this team is tremendous.
They have come together at the right time.
Who is the "X-factor" for the Sun?
It might be the bench. Asjha Jones
coming off the bench for the Sun has been huge. She's like a starter out there.
Debbie Black also comes in
and changes the complexion of the game. Jessica
Brungo, the rookie, is long and can defend and hit the outside shot. Another
rookie, Le'Coe Willingham,
also gets minutes off the bench, but they may shorten the rotation to eight
players. I think the bench for both teams will be very important.
In order for the Storm to win, they need to... ...force Connecticut
to take outside shots, where they are less comfortable, play good, team defense
and rebound. Seattle out-rebounded Sacramento in the final two games of that
series, and that made a huge difference. But if the big players play big, Seattle
will be in good shape. Bird and Jackson remind me of Stockton and Malone. Jackson
can play all over the floor and no matter where she is, Bird will get her the
ball. The two of them do it all. Jackson can shoot, play with her back to the
basket, put the ball on the floor, rebound, defend and block shots. She barely
missed from 3-point range in the last series against Sacramento. And Bird can
shoot as well, but she gets her teammates involved as well as anyone. Of course,
she doesn't get assists unless her teammates hit shots, so it is a matter of
knocking those down.
In order for the Sun to win, they need to... ...get inside and play
with poise. They have to get dribble penetration and Lindsay Whalen is the catalyst.
This is a team that can make layups and get themselves to the free throw line,
but they can also kick out to Douglas and Sales. The Sun must also keep the
Storm off the glass and try and get Seattle's players in foul trouble. Defensively,
they need to help each other out and limit the Storm's 3-point effectiveness.
Connecticut can't let Seattle rattle them if they make shots early or get on
a run. And making shots wouldn't hurt, either.
I really think anything can happen in this series. The crowd will play a big
factor in both arenas. I was at Game 3 in Seattle and I don't think the crowd
sat down the entire second half. It was loud and enthusiastic. Players thrive
on that type of energy. The Connecticut crowd should be supportive of the Sun
as well on Friday, and I expect that to help the team a lot.