Chantelle Andersonís Insiderís Guide to the West
With Chantelle Anderson, San Antonio Silver Stars
Center Chantelle Anderson and the San Antonio Silver Stars will not be participating in the 2006 WNBA Playoffs, but that doesn't mean she won't be watching. As someone who knows the Playoff teams and players quite well, we asked the Silver Stars veteran to break down the two first round series in the Western Conference Playoffs. Anderson takes us inside each positional matchup, but stops short of making predictions. After all, she will have to play these teams again next season.
Los Angeles Sparks and Seattle Storm
Point Guard Temeka Johnson vs. Sue Bird. Two of the top point guards in the league will meet up in this first round matchup. Sue Bird runs this Seattle team and they may depend on her even more on offense with Lauren Jackson not at 100 percent. The Sparks trade for Johnson has worked out very well; she does so many things for them and they depend on her to win games. Bird will have her work cut out with stopping Johnson, but Johnson will also have to stop Bird as the Storm usually go as she goes.
Shooting Guard Mwadi Mabika vs. Betty Lennox. Lennox and Mabika are their respective teams main perimeter scorers. They will both need to hit shots to keep some of the pressure off of Lisa Leslie and Lauren Jackson inside. Betty Lennox wants to take the big shots and has proven she can hit them. Then again, so has Mwadi Mabika, a ten-year vet who is playing some of the best basketball of her career. Both of these players are proven veterans and WNBA champions who have played a lot of playoff basketball.
Small Forward Tamara Moore vs. Iziane Castro Marques. Tamara Moore contributes in many different ways for the Sparks, whether it be scoring, rebounding, or tough defense. She has found been on several teams her first four years in the league but seems to have finally found a home in L.A. Castro Marques is a two year starter for Seattle. She is one of the fastest players in the league end to end and provides key trasition opportunites. Both of these players are capable of having big games and making an impact if they are overlooked.
Power Forward Jessica Moore vs. Lauren Jackson. Lauren Jackson is one of the best players in the world. She can score from anywhere on the court, rebound, and play tough, physical defense. Her minutes have been limited this season because of injuries but Seattle was able to rest her for a few games before the playoffs and that should help. Jessica Moore has had a good year and really fits well with this L.A. team. The Sparks dont look for Moore much on offense but she plays and scores well off double teams drawn by Lisa Leslie. She is also valuable for her defense and rebounding, especially against a player like Lauren Jackson.
Center Lisa Leslie vs. Janell Burse. Lisa Leslie is not only the best center in women's game, but has also had an MVP caliber season. She presents match-up problems in every phase of the game and will be looking to dominate in the playoffs. Burse has developed into an effective starting center for the Storm. She has good hands and footwork around the basket. In this series she will be needed to make Leslie work for everything she gets and force the Sparks to rely on others to score points. At times Lauren Jackson will be guarding Leslie as well.
Keys to the
Sacramento Monarchs and Houston Comets
Point Guard Tichia
Penicheiro vs. Dawn Staley. Both are two of the greatest point guards in WNBA
history. This is Staley's last season and she will definitely be motivated to
go out on top and complete her legacy with a WNBA Championship. She has had a
good season so far, especially shooting from behind the arc. Penicheiro runs the
show for the defending champion Monarchs. She is a tough defender and an improved
scorer, but most importantly, she is the primary ball handler in the Monarchs
motion offense. It should be an
Shooting Guard Scholanda Dorrell and Kara Lawson vs. Roneeka Hodges and Dominque Canty. The Monarchs have started different players at this position, including defensive specialist Scholanda Dorrell and three-point shooter Kara Lawson. Both will play significant minutes in this series for a Monarchs team that goes ten deep consistently. Hodges is in her second WNBA season and has developed into consitent contributer for the Comets. They will need her to continue to hit from outside as nearly half of her field goals have from three point range this season. Dominque Canty is expected back for the Comets, who will give them a huge lift coming back from her hand injury.
Small Forward Nicole Powell vs. Sheryl Swoopes. Last year's Most Improved player, Nicole Powell can flat out shoot and she is the Monarchs' top scoring threat from outside. Swoopes is one of the games all time greats and is a fierce competitor. She will be looking to lead her team past Sacramento, but last year it was Powell that had the last laugh with one of the biggest shots of the playoffs to help the Monarchs steal one on Houston's home court.
Power Forward DeMya Walker vs. Tina Thompson. Walker missed a good part of the season after giving birth to her child. As she has played herself back into shape her offensive aggressivness and tough defense have helped give the Monarchs that extra edge they were missing earlier in the season. Tina Thompson also missed a big part of the season while rehabbing a calf injury, but she has come back even more unstoppable than she was when she left. If she can keep up her amazing comeback, her and Swoopes may once again be a deadly combination.
Center Yolanda Griffith vs. Michelle
Snow. This All-Star match-up at center should be a good one. Snow has taken her
game to another level this season and gives the Comets a big presence inside.
She is a threat to score on the block as well as clean up the boards on the offensive
and defensive ends. Yolanda Griffith is