The Rookie Rivalry: Pondexter vs. Augustus

By Andrew Nicholson,
Posted: August 9, 2006

Cappie Pondexter and Seimone Augustus – talk about one, and you often include the other. Both are having excellent rookie seasons, and both are deserving of Rookie of the Year honors.

But there can only be one winner.

The two ROY candidates know the award is at stake but have still enjoyed playing against each other.

“It’s always fun to go up against Cappie,” Augustus said following her 19-point and three-rebound outing in Tuesday’s Lynx loss. “Everybody makes hype about it, but anytime you get to go up against a player as competitive as Cappie, it’s always fun, not only for us within the game, but for the fans, too.”

Ever since Augustus was chosen first by Minnesota in this year’s WNBA Draft and Pondexter was chosen second, their rivalry was set.

CP has been the most complete player amongst the rookies, getting things done in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals. Meanwhile, Augustus leads the Lynx in scoring and is on pace to set the rookie scoring average record. She is also currently second in the league to the new single-season all-time scoring leader, Diana Taurasi.

CP and company took the season series over the Lynx 2-1, with the thrashing they gave the Lynx Tuesday.

Now that the season series has concluded and the Mercury came out on top, it is time to see how the two friends matched up against each other in head-to-head games.

For the season series, Seimone Augustus averaged 25 points, six rebounds and less than one assist against the Mercury. Meanwhile, CP averaged over 21 points, three boards, nearly three assists and two steals per contest against Augustus’ Lynx.

The numbers don’t lie.

Cappie won the head-to-head battle by tripling Augustus in assists and doubling her average in steals. Although Augustus barely averaged more points and rebounds they are cancelled out because she lost the season series and the Lynx’s worst loss of the season came at the hands of the Mercury, when they lost by 31 points Tuesday.

“The bottom line for me is that we are making a playoff run,” Pondexter said. “I love her to death, but more importantly, we needed that win.”

The Mercury’s late push to make the playoffs also gives Pondexter an assist for the Rookie of the Year nod. The Lynx at 10-22 have the worst record in the Western Conference, the third-worst record in the WNBA and are out of playoff contention. The Mercury, on the other hand, have three games to go and control much of their own fate.

The two rookie phenoms hear the hype and hear the conjecture over who should be the top rookie, but when it’s all said and done, they are good friends that enjoy competing against each other. Both would be honored to win the award, but both are friends first.

“We’ve been friends since college,” the Lynx’s No. 33 said. “We keep in touch. When I got here, I called her and we talked for a little bit. We are very close.”

Pondexter added, “We kind of leave the basketball alone. We just talk about things that are happening in our lives.”

With the friendly rivalry, some may think that trash talking would take place on or off the court, but that isn’t the case.

“We’re not that type of players,” the Mercury guard added. “She’s not and I’m not. We don’t really talk smack.”

When the WNBA season ends, basketball for the two young guns is far from over. Both are likely candidates to be selected to represent the United States in the World Championships in Japan this September.

The two have teamed up before and always look forward to the opportunity to play side by side.

“We just have fun,” Augustus said. “I really like to get up and down the court, I really like the style that Phoenix plays, and when we get on the USA team, we really get to show what we can do, like combo guards – like she and Diana.”

Pondexter added, “Anytime you have the opportunity to play with great players, it’s a lot of fun. We have a lot of chemistry and a lot of respect for each other.”