Sarah is a 15 year-old freshman from Kansas involved in journalism, art, pep band, scholar's bowl, her church youth group, basketball and volleyball. She loves listening to oldies music and enjoys reading her favorite book, "A Walk to Remember". Her favorite WNBA team is the Houston Comets.
Here is Sarah's analysis on each of this year's playoff teams:
New York Liberty
The Liberty is sitting deep, with players who can come off the bench and put up some numbers. Donít let them wear you down. Crystal Robinson, Becky Hammon and Vickie Johnson can all shoot the trey, so if the game is on the line, donít let them get the ball. The Liberty is a team of veterans, with playoff experience. Donít let your rookies get nervous and make rookie mistakes. The Liberty is not a strong rebounding team, so take advantage.
The Sting are well equipped with Tammy Sutton-Brown, Andrea Stinson and Dawn Staley. Sutton-Brown is an aggressive rebounder and must be boxed out. While Staley may not be a huge scoring threat, she does average 5.1 assists per game. When she gets the ball, sheíll find the open player.
The Mystics have had a streaky year with Chamique Holdsclaw on and off the injured list. If she is in the game, donít worry about her so much that you forget about Stacey Dales-Schuman and the rest of a strong supporting cast who can score as well. The Mystics are solid ball-handlers as well. Getting the Mystics frustrated from the beginning should help.
Undeniably, Indianaís star is rookie Tamika Catchings who leads them in points, rebounds, steals, assists and blocks. Nikki McCray can also shoot the ball, so look for Indiana to dish off to her if Catchings gets in trouble. Olympia Scott-Richardson has done a good job in the frontcourt, but she is liable to get into foul trouble. To score a win, keep Catchings cold and get Scott-Richardson in foul trouble early.
Los Angeles Sparks
A common mistake that teams make when playing L.A. is focusing too much on Lisa Leslie. The Sparks use double-teaming or even triple-teaming on Leslie to their advantage. This opens up Mwadi Mabika who is averaging 17.2 ppg. The key to beating the Sparks is to shut down the whole team, not just one player. Boxing out and rebounding canít hurt either.
Possibly the best defensive team in the WNBA, Houston is a challenge to beat. They limit their opponents to 37.5% from the floor. You should look to take higher percentage shots against them. The Comets proved that they can play without one of their stars (Tina Thompson) when Michelle Snow picked up the slack against L.A. In their loss to Sacramento, however, she only contributed 5 points. By shutting down Thompson or Snow, it will make it harder for Sheryl Swoopes or Janeth Arcain to save the day. The Comets are solid from the stripe, so foul as little as possible.
You canít beat the Starzz by stopping one player. All five starters are averaging almost double figures. (Jennifer Azzi is at 9.6 ppg.) Led by Margo Dydek, Utah will out-rebound you. They do average more turnovers though. By applying aggressive defense, you should be able to get some steals which will translate into easy baskets.
The two to watch from Seattle are Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird. Bird is cool, calm and collected, and thrives under pressure. Donít try to foul her late in the game because she shoots 91% from the free throw line. The Storm will steal the ball from you, but theyíll also foul you. Be ready to shoot free throws and deny Jackson the ball down low.