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 Conference Finals starting
Friday, October 1, we asked Meyers to analyze the matchups.
(18-16, 1st place)
(18-16, 2nd place)
What is the most intriguing matchup?
I actually see two intriguing matchups here. The first will be the battle between
the point guards, Becky Hammon
and Lindsay Whalen. Both
are terrific penetrators, both do a great job getting themselves to the free
throw line and both create shots for their teammates. Hammon is probably a better
outside shooter than Whalen, but Lindsay is a little stronger. It will be exciting
to watch those two. The other two I am looking forward to watching are Crystal
Robinson and Nykesha Sales.
Those two were probably the MVP's for their teams in the first round. Both of
them are such tough defensive players, which often gets lost because they are
also such potent offensive threats.
Which Sun player is the "X-factor?"
With solid starters at every position, the "X-factor" for the Sun
could be its bench. It could be the bench as New York does not go as deep. I
like rookie Jessica Brungo's
game. They also have Debbie Black,
who gives them a spell in the backcourt, and Le'Coe
Willingham, who gives them size.
Who is the "X-factor" for the Liberty?
I believe it will be Elena Baranova.
She is has to play big. She can hurt an opposing team in a lot of different
ways. At 6-5, she can block shots, can hit the 3-pointer, hit a high post shot and force a center out of the paint.
But she really has to be a presence inside for New York. I think La'Keshia
Frett could also play a big role off the bench.
In order for the Sun to win, they need to... ...keep overcoming the
doubters. They must feel like they are the "Little Engine that Could."
They probably feel that they get no respect and that nobody takes them seriously
(I was one of them) and I think they like that edge. The chemistry was there
from Day One. But the matchups probably favor Connecticut. Mike Thibault did
a great job of defending Alana Beard in the Washington series with a number
of different players from Whalen to Sales to Katie
Douglas, so it wouldn't surprise me if he did the same thing on Robinson.
In order for the Liberty to win, they need to... ...fight, outwork the
Sun and not give up. New York is a team of destiny. They were only down to six
players, and how they are winning is amazing. New York is a team that has been
there in the past and will always have that gritty, gutty edge.
(20-14, 2nd place)
(18-16, 4th place)
What is the most intriguing matchup?
Again, I think there are two key matchups. Lauren
Jackson and Tangela Smith
in the post will be one that I am watching. Smith was the MVP of the first round
for Sacramento because she is able to knock down shots, she is long and rangy
and also plays good defense. Sacramento's front line is so athletic and creates
a lot of matchup problems. We all know what Lauren is capable of. She just needs
to stay out of foul trouble. As far as the other head-to-head battle I am will
be watching closely is Sheri Sam
and DeMya Walker. Walker is
good enough defensively that she will make it hard for Sam to get open shots.
However, if she is shooting the ball well, Sacramento is going to be in trouble.
Which Storm player is the "X-factor?"
Depending on the status of Sue Bird,
it could be Tully Bevilacqua.
But she can also score. Remember that she started three seasons in Portland.
She is a tough player, in the mold of Kristi Harrower, Sandy Brondello, Michele
Timms, previous hard-nosed Australians. I am not surprised by Tully at all.
Who is the "X-factor" for the Monarchs?
In their two wins over L.A., Ticha
Penicheiro played a big role. You might look at her numbers and might not
think they look that impressive, but she handles pressure and sets up that offense
so well. She is a pretty good defensive player and can break you down and get
In order for the Storm to win, they need to... ...get balanced scoring.
Betty Lennox can score, as
can Sam, Jackson and Bird. Again, Bevilacqua can score as well, and she may
have to play a bigger role this series depending how effective Sue can be. I
know how hard it is to play with a broken nose and a mask. I once had to do
it and I threw it off in the middle of the game, but I hope Sue is able to go.
She has such a great effect on that team, controlling things and keeping them
calm. She and Lauren have a tremendous connection, she can shoot the three,
she gets in the lane, forces people to play defense, and yet, will she be effective
in this series. With that question mark, I may have to give the edge to the
In order for the Monarchs to win, they need to... ...hit their shots
and get their defense going. If they can do that, it will then get their running
game going and will open some things up. If you look at the four teams that
are left, the Monarchs are the only ones with a primary American Olympian left.
Yolanda Griffith has been
on a mission since Athens. In her statements, you can tell that she really believes
in this team. There is something different about them. They are hungry after
having been close for four years, losing to Los Angeles in previous years. Another
reason they believe so strongly is the depth of their bench. They also have
to hit shots. Missing outside shots has been their achillies heel all season